Don’t Be Fooled This April: What Makes A Real Custom Mouthguard?
April is the month for fooling, but while April 1 has already passed, you still need to be vigilant about companies trying to trick you.
Many mouthguard brands claim to have “custom” or “semi-custom” boil-and-bite mouthguards — but do not be fooled by the imitators!
What’s the difference between a true custom and a quote-unquote “custom?” It all comes down to the production of the mouthguard. Let’s take a look at what makes an actual custom-made mouthguard and cast the tricksters aside for good:
1. A Custom Mouthguard is Custom FIT
First things first: boil-and-bite mouthguards are great for basic protection. However, when it comes to true orofacial protection for sports — contact or otherwise — only a real custom-made mouthguard will do.
Any mouthguard that is fit with a boil-and-bite process is fooling you with the level of protection it can provide. It doesn’t matter what fancy material the guard claims to use; boil-and-bite mouthguards are one size-fits-all and conform to an athlete’s mouth by the individual literally boiling the stock mold and biting down. This will always create a less than ideal fit and sacrifice proper protection.
The perfect fit provided by a custom mouthguard is only achieved by using a direct dental impression — either from a home impression kit with trays and putty, or via a 3D scan at a dentist’s office — to create the mouthguard. This is the only method that assures the most exact fit possible.
2. A Custom Mouthguard is Custom CUT
By definition, any stock form used to make your mouthguard directly defies the “custom” of a custom mouthguard.
Off-the-shelf mouthguards are made with extra material to help “grab onto” the teeth and stick in the mouth. But that lack of a tight fit means the mouthguard is extra bulky and won’t stay in place without biting or clenching. That extra material also causes you to gag and be uncomfortable.
Nothing about a custom mouthguard is off the shelf and no two custom mouthguards are alike. A custom mouthguard is formed and cut to follow your specific mouth and tooth structure. They are engineered to be as thin as possible or have no material at all in any area that doesn’t require protection.
That creates an intimate fit, allowing you to drink water and communicate with teammates without needing to remove your mouthguard!
3. A Custom Mouthguard is Custom DESIGNED
Each custom mouthguard is designed to be sure the proper protection remains in the important impact zones for the individual athlete and their specific sport. That means each layer of the mouthguard is cut, added and designed to be in a specific spot with a specific thickness.
When you fit a boil-and-bite, you can no longer be sure of how protected you are. As you bite, suck and push, you are warping the material and moving the protection in ways that cannot be predicted.
Meanwhile, the human mouth can only apply about 9 lbs. per square inch of pressure when fitting a boil-and-bite. Custom mouthguards, on the other hand, are pressed at 120 lbs. per square inch.
That specific engineering means the mouthguard is exactly where it needs to be when impact occurs. Which is kind of the point!