When considering recommendations, an ideal mouth guard:
- protects the teeth, soft tissue, bone structure, and temporomandibular joints
- diminishes the incidence of concussions and neck injuries
- exhibits protective properties that include high power absorption and power distribution throughout the expansion
- provides a high degree of comfort and fit to the maxillary arch
- remains securely and safely in place during action
- allows speaking and does not limit breathing
- is durable, resilient, tear resistant, odourless, and tasteless
The American Society for Testing and Materials and the manufacturers of mouth guards have classified the mouth guards into three types:
- Stock Mouth guards
Stock mouth guards may be purchased from a sporting goods store or pharmacy. They are made of rubber, polyvinyl chloride, or a polyvinyl acetate copolymer. The advantage is that this mouth guard is relatively inexpensive, but the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages. They are available only in limited sizes, do not fit very well, inhibit speech and breathing, and require the jaws to be closed to hold the mouth guard in place. Because the stock mouth guards do not fit well, the player may not wear the mouth guard due to discomfort and irritation. The Academy of Sports Dentistry has stated that the stock mouth guard is unacceptable as an orofacial protective device.
- Mouth-formed Protectors
There are two types of mouth-formed protectors: the shell-liner and the thermoplastic mouth guard. The shell-liner type is made of a preformed shell with a liner of plastic acrylic or silicone rubber. The lining material is placed in the player’s mouth, moulds to the teeth and then is allowed to set. The preformed thermoplastic lining (also known as “boil and bite”) is immersed in boiling water for 10 to 45 seconds, transferred to cold water and than adapted to the teeth. This mouth guard seems to be the most popular of the three types and is used by more than 90% of the athletic population (Figure 23).