The boxer’s mouthguard
A well constructed mouthguard is probably the most important piece of equipment a boxer can have throughout his career. It’s purpose is not just the protection of teeth from fracture or displacement. It also minimizes injury to surrounding soft tissue and the bony structures of the head and neck. A professional mouthguard with the correct coverage and thickness acts as a shock absorber and equally distributes and transfers impact forces throughout the guard. This reduces the chances for concussion and severe head injury.
The criteria to meet these conditions cannot be achieved with the inexpensive stock or boil-and- bite type mouthguard sold in retail stores. An experienced dentist is needed to customize and deliver this vital piece of protection.
The newly made mouthguard should be worn during as many gym activities as possible. This helps the boxer get use to breathing with it and it will become second nature to have it in place.
Because of its superior retention it is very difficult to have this type of guard knocked out or for the fighter to spit it out. Mouthguard should be replaced yearly or sooner depending on amount of use. Superstition or force of habit can unfavorably prolong it’s use and so occasionally a fighter will hold onto an old guard longer than necessary. Replace them as suggested.
The one I currently make for athletes is a custom made heat/ pressure multi laminated mouthguard made out of an excellent ethyl – vinyl acetate material which has negligible deformation when worn for prolonged periods of time. It should have no interference in breathing and minimally affect speech. It’s tensile strength; tear strength, elongation, and amount of elasticity are important factors and indication of durability. For maximum protection, the energy absorbed by the mouthguard should be dissipated by it rather than transferred to the underlying teeth and surrounding structures. It will not harden or wear with use as can be seen with other over the counter product.
Good luck in your next match… fight hard and keep your teeth in your mouth.