Guard Your Smile, Facial Protection Month


The weather is finally warming up and we’re all eager to get outside and play. How fitting then, that April is National Facial Protection Month? 

Whether you find yourself engaging in full contact sports like football and hockey or you enjoy softball and skateboarding, they all present potential dangers for dental trauma and concussion. So, while you’re packing up your sporting equipment and accessories to head outside (or inside) to play, don’t forget your most important piece of equipment; a mouth guard to protect your beautiful smile!

It only takes one instance for a friend to accidentally elbow you in the mouth while playing some driveway basketball or for a grounder to hop up and miss your glove to cause a painful and oftentimes costly injury. It’s important to note that with dental traumas, although they happen in an instant, they have long-lasting effects. Managing lost or damaged teeth for adults is difficult and very expensive, but even more so for growing children and can be a burden to them for a lifetime. While any mouth protection is better than none, a well-fitted mouth guard from your dentist can prove to be a better defense against dental traumas and concussion. 

If you currently wear a mouth guard, great. Keep up the good work! However, if you haven’t added a mouth guard to your list of equipment needs, let us help break down some options for you to help make the best decision when choosing your mouth guard.

There are three main options to consider when selecting a mouth guard, a custom fit guard which can be fabricated at the dental office or two over-the-counter options (“Stock” and “Boil and Bite”) that can be purchased at your local pharmacy or retail stores. 


These types of mouth guards are those that you can readily find at your local sporting goods stores. They are typically made of rubber or a polyvinyl and come in standard sizes. (small, medium, large) The guard will not form to teeth, and because of the material and standard sizing, is often bulky in the mouth. While these types of mouth guards are not typically recommended as the best fit, they are easily accessible and at great price points.


  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to find/access


  • Offers the least amount of protection
  • Bulky, which can make breathing and speaking difficult
  • Little can be done to adjust the fit
  • Mouth must remain closed for the guard to stay in place
  • The wrong fit could cause trauma (e.g. oral lacerations or ulcers)
  • Less than ideal fit can lead to poor compliance with wearing the guard 


These guards are those that you will find at a local pharmacy or large retailer. They are easy to get a hold of and take minutes to mold. You simply follow the directions on the package, oftentimes submerging the mouth guard in boiling/hot water for a set amount of time, and then holding a firm bite with the (slightly) cooled mouth guard to allow it to form to your teeth. This is certainly a step up from a stock mouth guard, as it provides a better fit to your dentition or bite, it can still be bulky in size and often difficult to get a great seal.


  • Offers a more individualized fit compared to a  stock mouth guard
  • Cost-effective
  • Allows for more growth and change compared to a custom fit (think orthodontics or loose primary molars)


  • Bulky, which can make breathing and speaking difficult
  • The wrong fit could cause trauma (e.g. oral lacerations or ulcers)
  • Material that wears more quickly so you would need to replace more often
  • Less than ideal fit can lead to poor compliance with wearing the guard or improper wear (e.g. chewing on one side) leading to replacing the mouth guard more often


At Dentistry for Children we are able to create a custom fit mouth guard. This process would involve taking an impression in the office to create a mold of the teeth. This allows us to provide you with an exact fit and contour of your mouth as well as a tight and comfortable fit. Having a pediatric dentist create your mouth guard at your next visit will ensure that your mouth guard also addresses specific areas of concern for your personal bite. This can include reducing thickness in certain areas and providing enough support in others until you receive a comfortable fit.


  • High-quality, durable material
  • Covers every tooth and supports proper jaw alignment
  • May be covered by insurance (check your individual plan)
  • Lower profile which makes breathing and speaking easier
  • More comfortable fit and feel, which means athlete are more likely to wear them consistently and leave them in place


  • More expensive than the other options
  • Not an option for children in traditional orthodontics (Invisalign/clear aligner orthodontics are OK for this type)

Each of the options outlined above provide a level of support and are certainly better than no protection at all. Regardless of the option you choose, try to find a mouth guard that is comfortable so you  are more likely to wear it properly and consistently, one that is durable in material, easy to clean, and one that does not restrict breathing.

Remember to wash your mouth guard with cool, soapy water or a toothbrush and mouth rinse after each use. When not in use, allow it to dry, store in a well-ventilated, firm case and avoid extreme heat to keep it from deforming. Taking proper care of your mouth guard will ensure that you get the most out of your investment in both the mouth guard and your beautiful smile!

We would be happy to discuss the option of a custom fit mouth guard at your next dental appointment or call our office at 320-257-3380 to learn more.