Pre-season shopping list!
It’s the beginning of another new season! Time to pay subs and insurance, purchase new uniforms, replace outgrown shoes . . . and, yes, get a new mouthguard.
There are the cheap off-the-shelf mouthguards, but nobody is ever too surprised to learn that the “fit almost everyone” (or almost no-one) approach offers little in the way of protection in the event of a knock to the face.
In comparison, the boil-and-bite / DIY version appears to offer a degree of customisation. Unfortunately they don’t fit snugly, aren’t as comfortable and consequently spend much time out of the mouth. Or being chewed!
The custom-made-from-the-dentist variety offers the best possible protection by effectively spreading the force of a blow over a wider area.
Making custom mouthguards
The key is achieving a perfect fit: a U-shaped tray filled with ‘putty’ – sometimes freshly mixed in the surgery – is fitted onto the upper row of teeth, or the ‘upper arch’, and held in place by the dentist. This impression material dries quickly and is then carefully removed – which sometimes, due to the snug fit, requires a bit of ‘wiggling’. The result is a perfect cast of the upper teeth. Plaster of Paris is poured in and allowed to set before the impression is removed – leaving a perfect model of the teeth.
Acrylic – in the colour or pattern of choice – is applied under vacuum ensuring the material moulds to the model. A well-fitting device allows the wearer to breathe freely and communicate clearly.
Health funds pay
Private health funds offer a rebate for one mouthguard per year ranging from $50 to 80% of the fee. To find out your particular cover, call your fund and quote the dental code for a custom-fit mouthguard which is 151.