- Preformed gum shields: Preformed or ready-made gum shields and mouthguards are sold over the counter in pharmacies and sports retail shops. They are not customised and come in a few generic sizes that are ready to wear. These ready-made gumshields are inexpensive but are usually very bulky and ill-fitting. Dentists do not recommend these type of gum shields.
- ‘Boil and bite’ gum shields: These gum shields are also sold at sports retail shop. They are available in a thermoplastic material that has to be immersed in boiling water and softened. The soft material is then moulded over the teeth and gums with the fingers to get a good fit. Although they offer a slightly better fit than preformed gum shields, they do not come close to the perfect fit offered by mouthguards fabricated in the dental clinic. Some “boil and bite gum shields may not seat properly and fall off during the sporting activity.
- Custom fitted gum shields: These mouth guards are highly customised to meet an individual’s needs and preferences. Although they are a little costlier, the comfort, fit and protection they offer are worth the cost. They sit well on your teeth and do not come off unless pressure is applied to take them off.
While sports gum shields and nightguards are both mouthguards in the technical sense, they differ greatly in terms of the look, feel and function.
The primary role of sports guards is to cushion the impact from a sudden heavy force during sporting activities. In comparison, a nightguard’s role is to protect the teeth biting surfaces from being worn down due to excessive tooth grinding or clenching. For this reason, nightguards are not as thick when compared to sports guards.
The material that makes up the two mouthguards is also quite different. Nightguards are made of a transparent and rigid material, strong enough to withstand biting forces, whereas gum shields are made of a softer material to absorb high impact forces.
Also, nightguards may only cover your teeth’ biting surfaces, whereas gum shields or sports mouthguards cover the teeth and the gums area (providing protection for the underlying bone).
If you are somebody who engages in sports regularly, it is a good idea for you to get a custom-fitted sports shield or mouthguard. We recommend visiting the dental clinic to get a fitted and customised gum shield for your recreational or sporting activities.