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A mouthguard a day keeps the dentist away - Part One

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How many years ago did you get your mouth guard? For the male players - here's a crazy question - when's the last time you took it off your helmet and washed it?

Not sure? Yeah, we thought so.

In this first of two posts on mouthguards Yo Momma will highlight the important but often 'afterthought/at the check out counter' mouthguard purchase.

We'll get to fit and cleaning tips in part two.

In full disclosure, we got my son's current mouthguard when we got his helmet - two years ago - and I don't even know if it was a 'boil and bite' that we never boiled or a 'stock fit.' Either way, we definitely didn't put much thought into the purchase - we were checking a box.

Turns out the American Dental Association ('ADA') created guidelines in the mid 1990's for what a properly protective sports mouthguard should look like. By 2009 there was still nothing that was commercially available that met those standards. Good chance what we got in 2014 wasn't so great either.

The ADA suggests to its professional participants that they highlight the benefit of custom fit mouthguards but also suggests dentists recommend the use of over-the-counter mouthguards with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

According to the ADA website, 'An over-the-counter mouthguard with the ADA Seal indicates that it complies with the ANSI/SAI standard and thus is considered to be safe option for people to consider.' And it goes unmentioned that while a custom mouthguard performs best, an over the counter solution helps avoid the expense associated with a custom made version, while still affording the consumer a safe option.

In November 2015, the ADA issued its first Seal of Approval to a product called CustMbite MVP making it the first athletic mouthguard to receive the nod from the ADA. For product details look for more at CustMbite.com or BiteTech.com.

So what does that mean for the rest of what's available in the market?

According to a position statement from the National Federation of State High School Associations with the advent of rules requiring the use of mouthguards for contact sports (that list includes both women's and men's lacrosse) oral/dental injuries have been reduced from 50% to less than 1% of high school football injuries.

So, clearly the use of even less than ideally fit guards has helped reduce risk. That said, knowing that this under appreciated piece of equipment should be regularly replaced, and often isn't, it might be time for many of us to consider if an upgrade is in order.

Our research found there are three types of guards and they have different natural life cycles. The NFHS posted the pros and cons of three generally available options:

Boil and Bite:  are inexpensive and form fitted but may not last a whole sports season and can put pressure on your cheeks and gums if not well fitted.

Custom Fit: offer a very accurate fit and therefore are extremely comfortable but are expensive and require several trips to the dentist. 

Stock: can offer real pros to braces wearers as they fit over them nicely but in general they offer a poor fit and can be easily dislodged.

Based on this, we'll be in the market for a new mouthguard - we'll review the new ADA Seal winning CustMbite MVP and share what we decide ultimately to buy. We'd love to hear your personal views of other options.

Take a look at your mouthguard and consider if you too need an upgrade of this important and under appreciated gear. Why? Because Yo Momma said so.



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