The American Dental Association Recommends Custom Mouth Guards

Get your child’s custom mouth guard at Medplex Pediatric Dentistry

In March, the American Dental Association updated its guidance on types of mouthguards and their efficacy in oral protection. They recommend against purchasing a ready-made mouth guard in stores because of their lack of adaptability and fit in your child’s mouth. In addition, mouth-formed mouth guards are primarily for home and not sport use. Custom-made mouth guards, while the most expensive, protect against costly and painful injuries. Custom-made mouthguards have been shown to reduce the risk of concussion and dentofacial injuries

Types of Mouth Guards
ANSI/ADA Standard No. 99:2001 defines three categories of mouth guards, typically made up of thermoplastic ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), but varying in cost, adaptability, comfort, level of contact with dentist, and safety efficacy.

Stock (ready-made)
This is the most commonly available and least expensive type of mouth guard, available at retail establishments such as department and sporting goods stores, and does not require visits to the dentist. Because it is only available in a limited range of sizes, requires the mouth to be shut to keep it in place, and is not adapted to the user’s mouth, research suggest it is the least effective type of mouth guard.

Mouth-formed (boil and bite)
These self-adapting mouth guards are designed to soften when placed in hot water, then cooled and placed into the mouth. The product is then adapted to the user’s mouth by bite pressure and manipulation by the tongue and fingers. A dental professional can assist with the final molding, particularly if the user has orthodontic appliances, but boil and bite mouth guards are widely available at retail establishments such as sporting goods stores and are generally designed for home use.

Custom mouth guards are fabricated in a dental office or laboratory from individual patient impressions. They provide the best fit, adaptability and efficacy, but are the most expensive option and require dental visits. More information for the dentist may be found in “Fabricating a custom-fitted mouth guard” in this 2006 JADA article., Accessed June 4, 2019.