How to Choose the Best Sports Mouthguard for Your Needs

sport mouthguard

Selecting the right sports mouthguard is crucial for athletes aiming to protect their oral health and enhance their performance on the field. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into:

  • The importance of mouthguards in sports, 
  • Their role in preventing dental injuries and reducing the risk of concussions.
  • Types of sports mouthguards
  • Practical tips on how to choose the right mouthguard for your sport

Why mouthguards are important for sports?

Sports mouthguards play a pivotal role in safeguarding athletes during sports activities by providing crucial protection for the teeth, gums, and surrounding structures of the mouth. The inherent physicality of many sports, such as football, basketball, and hockey, increases the risk of oral injuries resulting from collisions, falls, or impacts from equipment. A properly fitted mouthguard plays a crucial role in dental health by acting as a shock absorber, dispersing and absorbing the force of impact to minimize the risk of dental trauma, including chipped or broken teeth, knocked-out teeth, and lacerations to the lips, tongue, or cheeks. Moreover, sport mouthguards can also help reduce the incidence and severity of concussions by cushioning the jaw and stabilizing the head during sudden movements or impacts, making them an indispensable piece of protective gear for athletes of all ages and skill levels.

Protection against dental injuries

The primary function of a sports mouthguard is to provide robust protection against dental injuries. Mouthguards for braces are essential for athletes participating in contact sports. During athletic activities, collisions, falls, and impacts are commonplace, posing a significant risk to the teeth and surrounding oral structures. A properly fitted mouthguard acts as a cushion, absorbing and dispersing the force of impact to reduce the likelihood of dental trauma such as chipped, fractured, or knocked-out teeth. By creating a barrier between the teeth and the soft tissues of the mouth, sports mouthguards also help prevent lacerations to the lips, tongue, and cheeks, minimizing the risk of painful injuries and potential complications. Whether engaging in contact sports or recreational activities, athletes can rely on mouthguards to mitigate the risks of dental emergencies and maintain their oral health and well-being.

Reduction of concussion risk

In addition to protecting against dental injuries, sports mouthguards also play a role in reducing the risk of concussions. Concussions, a form of traumatic brain injury, can occur as a result of sudden impacts or movements that cause the brain to jolt within the skull. By providing a cushioning barrier between the upper and lower jaws, mouthguards help stabilize the jaw and absorb some of the impact forces transmitted to the head during collisions or falls. This stabilization can help mitigate the risk of concussion by minimizing excessive movement of the head and reducing the severity of impacts. While sport mouthguards alone cannot entirely prevent concussions, they serve as a valuable tool in comprehensive concussion risk management strategies for athletes across various sports disciplines.

Types of sports mouthguards

Sport mouthguards come in various types, each offering unique features and levels of protection to suit different preferences and requirements. Here are the most common types:

Stock mouthguards

Stock mouthguards are pre-formed and ready to wear straight out of the package. They are typically inexpensive and available at most sporting goods stores. However, they offer the least amount of protection and may not provide a proper fit, often resulting in discomfort and limited effectiveness.

Boil and bite mouthguards

Boil and bite sport mouthguards are made from a thermoplastic material that softens when boiled. After boiling, the wearer bites into the softened material to create a customized fit. While they offer better fit and protection compared to stock mouthguards, their effectiveness can vary depending on the molding process and individual bite alignment.

Custom-fitted mouthguards

Custom-fitted mouthguards are professionally crafted based on impressions of the wearer’s teeth and mouth. They offer the highest level of protection, comfort, and retention, as they are tailored precisely to the individual’s unique oral anatomy. While they may be more expensive than stock or boil-and-bite mouthguards, custom-fitted mouthguards provide superior fit and performance, making them the preferred choice for many athletes, especially those engaged in high-impact sports.

Custom-fitted mouthguards for protecting veneers are the top choice for athletes during sports activities, ensuring both sufficient shock absorption and comfort.

How to choose the right mouth guard for your sport

Selecting the appropriate sport mouthguard is crucial for athletes seeking to safeguard their oral health during sports activities. With various options available, understanding how to choose the right mouth guard tailored to your specific sport is essential for optimal protection and comfort. In this section, we’ll provide practical guidance on selecting the perfect mouth guard based on the demands of your chosen sport.

sport mouthguard

Ensure proper sizing

Selecting the right size is paramount when choosing a mouthguard for your sport. Mouthguards come in various sizes, catering to both kids and adults. It’s crucial to opt for one that fits snugly over your teeth and gums. Ensure you measure your mouth accurately and refer to the manufacturer’s size chart to guarantee the perfect fit, as improper sizing can compromise protection.

Prioritize protection and comfort

Opting for a mouthguard that offers optimal protection and comfort is essential for every athlete. A well-fitted mouthguard should comfortably cover your teeth and gums while allowing for easy breathing and speaking. It should effectively shield against potential damage to your dental structures and jaw. Trying on different sizes and shapes is crucial to finding the right fit. Consult with your dentist or a sports medicine professional to ensure you select the ideal mouthguard for your specific sport.

Evaluate material composition

The material of your chosen mouthguard significantly impacts its protective capabilities. Thermoplastic is commonly used due to its softness, comfort, and ease of molding to teeth. Other materials like rubber, silicone, and vinyl are also utilized. Opt for a durable and comfortable material that ensures sufficient protection during sports activities.

Verify FDA approval

Checking for FDA approval is a vital step in selecting a reliable mouthguard. The FDA rigorously tests and approves medical devices, including mouthguards, to meet safety standards before they’re available for sale. Look for the FDA’s seal of approval on any mouthguard you consider purchasing to guarantee its safety and efficacy.

Consider custom mouthguards

For contact sports or individuals prone to teeth grinding or clenching, custom mouthguards offer optimal protection and comfort. Crafted to fit your mouth precisely, these guards are molded by your dentist based on impressions of your teeth. Custom mouthguards provide superior protection and comfort, making them the preferred choice for many athletes concerned about dental safety.

Factors to consider when choosing a sport mouthguard

Selecting the right sports mouthguard is crucial for ensuring optimal protection and comfort during athletic activities. With various options available on the market, it’s essential to consider several factors to determine which mouthguard best suits your needs. From level of protection to fit and material, each aspect plays a significant role in determining the effectiveness and usability of the mouthguard. In this section, we’ll explore the key factors to consider when choosing a sports mouthguard, empowering you to make an informed decision that prioritizes both safety and performance.

Fit and comfort

One of the most critical factors to consider when choosing a sport mouthguard is the fit and comfort it provides. A properly fitted mouthguard ensures maximum protection by staying securely in place during athletic activities without causing discomfort or hindering speech or breathing. Custom-fitted mouthguards offer the best fit as they are tailor-made to the individual’s mouth, providing a snug and comfortable fit that allows for natural jaw movement.

Materials and construction

The materials used in the construction of a mouthguard greatly influence its effectiveness and durability. Common materials include thermoplastic polymers like ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) or polyethylene, which provide cushioning and shock absorption properties. Some mouthguards may also incorporate additional features such as inner soft gel linings for added comfort or outer hard shells for enhanced protection against impacts.

Thickness and protection level

The thickness of the mouthguard is directly related to the level of protection it offers. Thicker mouthguards typically provide greater shock absorption and protection against dental injuries. However, excessively thick mouthguards may impede breathing or speech, so it’s essential to strike a balance between thickness and comfort based on the level of impact expected in your sport or activity.

Breathability for enhanced performance

Breathability is another crucial factor, especially for athletes engaged in high-intensity sports or activities. Mouthguards with adequate ventilation channels or perforations allow for better airflow, reducing the risk of performance limitations due to restricted breathing. Look for mouthguards designed with breathable materials or innovative airflow systems to maintain optimal oxygen intake during physical exertion.

Durability for long-term use

The durability of a mouthguard is vital for long-term use and cost-effectiveness. High-quality materials and robust construction ensure that the mouthguard can withstand repeated impacts and retain its protective qualities over time. While custom-fitted mouthguards often offer superior durability, carefully evaluate the construction and materials of stock or boil-and-bite mouthguards to ensure they meet your durability requirements.

Your sports and activities

Finally, consider the specific demands of your sports and activities when choosing a sport mouthguard. Different sports involve varying levels of contact and impact, which may necessitate different types of mouthguards. For high-impact contact sports like football or hockey, prioritize mouthguards with maximum protection and shock absorption capabilities. Conversely, for non-contact sports or recreational activities, a lighter and more comfortable mouthguard may suffice without compromising on safety.

Maintenance and care

Proper maintenance and care of your sports mouthguard are essential for ensuring its longevity, effectiveness, and hygiene. Neglecting to clean and store your mouthguard correctly can lead to bacterial growth, deterioration of materials, and decreased protection over time. In this section, we’ll discuss the importance of maintenance and care routines for your sports mouthguard and provide practical tips to help you keep it clean, functional, and odor-free, maximizing its lifespan and performance.

Proper cleaning and storage

Maintaining good oral hygiene extends to your sport mouthguard. After each use, rinse your mouthguard with cool water to remove saliva and debris. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and mild soap or mouthguard cleaner to gently scrub the surface, being careful not to damage any specialized features or materials. Thoroughly rinse the mouthguard again and allow it to air dry completely before storing it in its case. Avoid using hot water or abrasive cleaners, as they can warp or degrade the mouthguard’s materials. Additionally, store your mouthguard in a ventilated case when not in use to prevent bacterial growth and ensure proper airflow.

Regular inspection and replacement

Regular inspection of your sports mouthguard is crucial for identifying any signs of wear, damage, or deterioration. Check for cracks, tears, or distortion in the material, as well as any loose or damaged straps or attachments. If you notice any such issues, discontinue use immediately and replace the mouthguard to maintain optimal protection. Even if no visible damage is present, consider replacing your mouthguard at least once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer to ensure continued effectiveness and hygiene. Additionally, monitor the fit of your mouthguard over time, as changes in your dental alignment or jaw structure may necessitate adjustments or replacement for proper protection. By staying vigilant and proactive in inspecting and replacing your sports mouthguard as needed, you can help safeguard your oral health and maximize the longevity of your protective gear.


In conclusion, choosing the right sport mouthguard and maintaining it properly are essential steps in safeguarding your oral health and maximizing your athletic performance. By considering factors such as fit, materials, thickness, breathability, durability, and the specific demands of your sports and activities, you can select a mouthguard that offers optimal protection and comfort. Additionally, implementing regular cleaning, storage, inspection, and replacement routines ensures that your mouthguard remains effective, hygienic, and durable over time. With proper care and attention, your sport mouthguard will continue to serve as a reliable barrier against dental injuries and enhance your confidence and enjoyment in sports and recreational activities. Remember, protecting your smile is just as important as excelling on the field or court, so prioritize your oral health by investing in a high-quality sport mouthguard and maintaining it diligently.


  • Can children use mouthguards for sports, and are there special considerations?

Yes, children can and should use mouthguards for sports activities to protect their developing teeth and oral structures. However, there are some special considerations for children’s mouthguards. It’s essential to choose a mouthguard specifically designed for children, as their mouths are smaller and may require different sizes and shapes for proper fit and comfort. 

  • Do mouthguards affect speech or breathing during sports?

While some individuals may initially experience minor speech or breathing changes when wearing a mouthguard, proper fitting and adjustment can minimize these effects. Custom-fitted mouthguards are designed to conform to the wearer’s mouth shape, reducing interference with speech and breathing. 

  • Can mouthguards be customized by color or design preference?

Yes, many mouthguard manufacturers offer customization options, allowing users to personalize their mouthguards with colors, logos, or designs. Customization not only adds a personal touch but also makes wearing the mouthguard more appealing, especially for younger athletes.

Author of this blog post:
Anye Tchouli Calne Forkob Linkedin

Anye Tchouli Calne Forkob is a medical student at the University of Buea and a Health Sciences student at the University of the People. He is passionate about community health outreach, self-care, and healthy lifestyle and aims to bridge the knowledge gap in the health sector.

Published by Toothhealth Team.

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