Mouthguard options when wearing braces or Invisalign

Anyone playing any type of sport should seriously consider wearing a mouthguard – whether they are wearing braces or not.

It is widely accepted that a mouthguard must be worn for contact sports like boxing, hockey, martial arts, rugby, league and Aussie rules. But I feel mouthguards should also be compulsory for other sports like soccer, basketball, touch football – or any other sport where there is even the remote chance of being accidentally hit in the mouth by an opponent’s head, elbow or knee.

Mouth Guard

The risks of not wearing a sports mouthguard

A heavy blow to the mouth can cause serious dental injuries and could end up costing thousands of dollars to repair the damage.

Dental injuries following a blow to the mouth could include one or a combination of the following :

  • Crown fracture
  • Root fracture
  • Damage to the nerve/blood supply of a tooth – resulting in it becoming dark and non-vital and eventually becoming abscessed
  • Partial displacement of one or more teeth
  • Laceration of the lips – especially if braces are present
  • Total loss of one or more teeth

If any dental injury does occur, it is important to see a dentist as soon as possible after the injury. This is especially important if a tooth has been displaced or totally knocked out.
Many of these dental injuries can be treated with modern dental technology and techniques, but it can be very time consuming requiring many visits to your dentist and be quite expensive.
The simple precaution of wearing a well-fitting mouthguard can avoid or, at least, minimize these injuries.

Common Complaints about Mouthguards

  1. Gagging
    The traditional rubber mouthguards need to be quite thick to absorb forces from an impact.  As a result, they are bulky and are a mouthful. People with sensitive palates or tongues tend to gag and struggle to keep these mouthguards in during a game.
  2. Speech
    Again due to the bulk, many people find it difficult to talk clearly and find it necessary to remove the mouthguard to communicate with other players. A major inconvenience for some.
  3. Mouthguard adjustments or replacements during orthodontic treatment
    The challenge for patients wearing braces is that their teeth continuously move or re-align during the course their orthodontic treatment (over 12 to 24 months) – which means a new mouthguard no longer fits after a couple of months – and needs to be either modified or replaced regularly – as an ill-fitting mouthguard offers little protection and can feel quite uncomfortable.
  4. Cost
    Mouthguards can cost up to $200 or more. This sounds like a lot but when you consider repairing dental injuries could cost anything from $300 to $30,000,  a quality, a well-fitting mouthguard is a great investment.

Mouthguard type

There are 3 types of sports mouthguards available.

1. Custom Mouthguards:

These are the conventional rubber –type mouthguards fitted by a dental professional. We first need to take an accurate impression to create a plaster model. The model is then given to our technician who will create a beautiful thermoformed mouthguard. We normally need 1-2 days to construct these.

These mouthguards offer excellent protection but are thick and bulky. This makes it challenging to talk while they are being worn and some patients find that the bulk can cause gagging.

2. SISU Mouthguards:

These are a high tech modern version of the “boil and bite” mouthguard. These are made of a hard medical grade plastic. They are softened in hot water and carefully moulded around the upper teeth.

These mouthguards only require one visit and can be fitted on the spot. These are also great for patients wearing braces as the SISU mouthguard can be easily re-softened in hot water and remoulded to the teeth periodically as the teeth are straightening.

3. Boil and bite mouthguard:

These are available from chemists or sporting goods stores. These are softened in hot water then moulded over the Teeth. Generally, the fit of these is poor and they often drop out when the player opens their mouth. They offer some protection and are better than having nothing. But I feel they may not be sufficiently protective if a serious impact is sustained. These sports mouthguards can be used over braces – and in fact, the braces offer something to grip onto – so the fit is better and more retentive in braces patients compared with non–braces patients.

These mouthguards are a quick option and can be fitted by the player him/ herself. This type of mouthguard can also be refitted a couple of times as the teeth move.

Wearing a mouthguard during Invisalign treatment

If you are having Invisalign treatment you can easily remove your Invisalign aligners to wear a mouthguard. Again, after a few months, as your teeth will straighten you will find your mouthguard may not fit as well. So it will need to be adjusted, remoulded or replaced.

The table below summarises the options for braces and Invisalign wearers.

Custom made SISU Boil n Bite
Material EVA  rubber(Ethyl – vinyl acetate) Medical grade plastic Varies depending on manufacturer and style
Cost – approx $150 – 200 $95 $20 – $60
Claimable from Health fund? Yes (Item code 151)*Rebate depends on your cover, but can be around $100. No No
Fit Excellent Very good Loose fit
Comfort BulkyMay cause gagging Thinner but strong BulkyMay cause gagging
Speech Difficult to speak Good Difficult to speak
How long to make 1-2 days to make Fitted on the spot Fitted yourself
Re-mouldable No Yes Yes
Use over braces? Yes, but may need replacing after 3 – 6 months Yes, re-mouldable Yes, re-mouldable
Use with Invisalign Yes, but may need replacing after 3 – 6  months Yes, re-mouldable Yes, re-mouldable

Contact Gullotta Orthodontics on (07) 55 3234 33 if you require a mouthguard or if you need more information.