Which mouthguard is better for kids’ sport: custom-made or boil-and-bite?

By Sally Grandy

5 minutes

08 March 2018

Custom-Made Footy Mouthguards

Watching your kids play sport is an emotional rollercoaster. There’s the thrill of watching them power across the pitch to score a goal; but there’s also the dread of seeing them injured.

According to Dr Justin Soon, Assistant Principal Dentist at LifeCare Dental, high-impact sports like hockey, football and rugby are especially bad for dental injuries. Kids can turn up to the dentist after a game with anything from a relatively minor chipped tooth through to more serious issues.

“The most severe involve the loss of three or four permanent teeth, several operations, then going through middle school and high school with a denture until the child is old enough for major reconstructive surgery and dental implants, which is usually only done when someone reaches 18 – 22 years of age,” explains Dr Soon.

Horror stories aside, Dr Soon stresses that simply wearing a mouthguard can reduce or avoid dental injuries altogether.

But picking a mouthguard can be a head-spin in itself.

With two teams on the field and fans for both sides, it can be hard figuring out which mouthguard to back. Here’s everything you need to know before choosing a winner for your child:

Boil-and-bites

Boil-and-bites can be bought over the counter at pharmacies and some sport stores. They’re made using a thermal mould, which is bitten into, taking the shape of the teeth and mouth. Because they don’t have a perfect fit, they can distort, change shape and have thinner areas—these factors can reduce the mouthguard’s protective qualities.

Dr Rodney Jennings, Specialist Paediatric Dentist at The Smile Club warns that boil-and-bite mouthguards may do more harm than good.

“In some cases, they may actually increase the severity of an injury, as they may localise the force of an injury to a single tooth or area, rather than distributing the force across the mouth as intended.”

While stock and boil-and-bite mouthguards are the cheaper option ($15 to $100), Dr Jennings explains that any saving made by choosing the cheaper option may only be short-term, as it could result in a more expensive dental bill later.

Custom-made

Custom-made mouthguards are acknowledged by dentists to be the best option. They’re created by dental professionals and are based on a detailed mould taken of the mouth and teeth. Because of their superior fit, custom-made mouthguards also provide better protection than their cheaper counterparts.

Dr Jennings adds that children are more likely to wear a custom-made mouthguard over boil-and-bites because they fit better, making them more comfortable and less likely to impede breathing.

Pre-game advice

The best time to buy a mouthguard is at the beginning of the sports season. If you go custom-made, the mouthguard will last 12 – 18 months.

“Children’s mouths change a great deal over a year, so when a custom mouthguard is made, the dental technician aims to accommodate for a year’s growth, allowing room for teeth to move and grow,” explains Dr Jennings.

Aside from doing a better job protecting your kids’ teeth, custom-made mouthguards are also more fun. Kids can customise their mouthguard to match their favourite team’s colours.

Unfortunately, kids are fickle fans.

The final bonus of a custom-made mouthguard is if your kid’s team allegiance changes, no drama—they can always get a different colour combo next year…

Custom-Made Hockey Mouthguards