Everything you need to know about mouthguards


4 minutes

27 May 2024

Girl getting fitted for mouthguard 

Whether you're a professional or amateur athlete, a teeth grinder, or suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), mouthguards play an essential part in keeping your teeth safe and your overall wellbeing at optimal levels.

We spoke with EGM – Clinical Excellence, HBF Dental, Dr Troy McGowan to learn more about mouthguards, from their importance and types, to proper care and maintenance.

Reasons you might need a mouthguard

Protection during sports: “Mouthguards act as a shock absorber, cushioning blows to the face and minimising the risk of broken teeth, jaw fractures, and soft tissue injuries during sports activities,” explains Dr Troy.

While often a requirement for participation in many sports like football, rugby, hockey and more, the WA Department of Heath recommends wearing mouthguards during any sport that carries a major risk of a knock of the face, including netball, volleyball, soccer and basketball1.

Prevention of teeth grinding (bruxism): Bruxism is a medical term used to describe the habitual, involuntary grinding or clenching of teeth, typically occurring during sleep. A condition that affects both children and adults, bruxism and can lead to various dental and health problems if left untreated2.

“If you suffer from bruxism, a special mouthguard called a splint can be a great help,” says Dr Troy. “They create a barrier between the upper and lower teeth, reducing the effects of grinding and clenching, which can lead to tooth wear, jaw pain, and headaches.

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA): OSA is a serious sleep disorder characterised by repeated episodes of partial or complete blocking of the upper airway during sleep, leading to pauses in breathing or shallow breathing. These pauses, known as apnoeas, can last for seconds to minutes and occur multiple times throughout the night, disrupting normal sleep patterns3.

“If you suffer from OSA, your dentist may recommend a custom mouthguard known as a mandibular advancement device (MAD). Designed to help keep the airway open during sleep by gently moving the lower jaw or mandible forward, MADs prevent the collapse of the soft tissues at the back of the throat that contribute to airway obstruction,” explains Dr Troy.

Types of mouthguards available

Stock mouthguards: Stock mouthguards are pre-formed and ready-to-wear, available at your local supermarkets or pharmacies.

“While inexpensive, stock mouthguards offer very limited protection to the teeth because they are such a poor fit. They often cause discomfort and interference with breathing and speech,” warns Dr Troy.

Boil and bite mouthguards: Made from thermoplastic material, boil and bite mouthguards can be semi-customised by boiling in water and then biting into to create a partially personalised fit.

“While boil and bite mouthguards provide slightly better protection and comfort than stock mouthguards, they are still not as effective as custom mouthguards due to their one-size fits all approach which often means that the teeth aren’t properly protected” says Dr Troy.

Custom-made mouthguards: Custom-made mouthguards are professionally made by a dentist based on impressions of your teeth.

“Although slightly more expensive, they offer the best fit, comfort, and protection. Because a mouthguard made at the dentist is custom fitted to your teeth and gums, it’s designed to distribute any impact equally across the mouth, minimising the risk of broken teeth, damage to the gums or injury to the jaw,” explains Dr Troy.

“The custom fit of a professionally made mouthguard also means that it will be more comfortable to wear and, easier to talk and breath with, meaning that kids in particular are more likely to wear it for the duration of their sporting activity. A mouthguard can’t protect the teeth when it’s not in place – so the more comfortable the fit the more likely it will be in the mouth when it’s needed!”

How to properly use and care for your mouthguard

Wear: Always wear your mouthguard when playing sports, while sleeping (if prescribed for bruxism or OSA) or as directed by your dentist to ensure continuous protection.

Cleaning: Rinse your mouthguard with warm water after each use and brush gently with a toothbrush. Deeper cleaning can be achieved using an over the counter denture cleaning solution or alcohol free mouth rinse.

Storage: Store your mouthguard in a clean, ventilated container out of direct sunlight.

Avoid: Do not chew on your mouthguard or expose it to high temperatures, and never share it with others to prevent damage and transmission of bacteria.

Do: Replace your child’s mouthguard every 12 to 18 months due to accommodate teeth growth and movement and to make sure it fits perfectly. A good fit = the best protection.

Take care of your smile at HBF Dental

With 8 convenient locations across the greater Perth area, HBF Dental makes it easier than ever to take care of your teeth. Eligible HBF members can enjoy one no gap check-up and clean^, so book your appointment today and keep your smile shinning!

Find your nearest centre


HealthyWA - Mouthguards

Healthdirect - Teeth grinding (bruxism)

Healthdirect - Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)

^For eligible HBF members with extras cover at HBF Dental Centres from 1 May 2023. Check-up and clean include comprehensive examination, scale and clean, fluoride treatment and up to 2 x-rays, as clinically necessary. Limit of one visit per person per calendar year, waiting periods and other exclusions apply. Learn more at hbfdental.com.au


This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.