A mouthguard is a protective device for the mouth that covers the teeth and gums to prevent and reduce injury to the teeth, arches, lips and gums. A mouthguard is most often used to prevent injury in contact sports, as a treatment for bruxism or TMD, or as part of certain dental procedures, such as tooth bleaching. Mouth guards are an important piece of athletic equipment for anyone participating in a sport that involves falls, body contact or flying equipment. This includes football, basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey, skateboarding, gymnastics, mountain biking — any activity that might result in an injury to the mouth. FUNCTIONS OF MOUTHGUARDS In their book Textbook and Color Atlas of Traumatic Injuries to the Teeth, Andreasen and Andreasen8 list 8 basic mouthguard functions:(1) Mouthguards prevent laceration and bruising during impact by acting as a buffer between the soft tissues of the lips and cheeks and the teeth.(2) Mouthguards prevent tooth fractures or dislocations by cushioning the teeth from direct frontal blows while redistributing the forces of impact.(3) Opposing teeth are protected from seismic contact with each other.(4) The mandible is afforded elastic, recuperative support that can prevent fracture or damage to the unsupported angle of the lower jaw.(5) Mouthguards help reduce neurologic injury by acting as shock absorbers between the upper and lower jaws. Without a mouthguard, the trauma of the jaws violently jarring together can distribute the impact from the condyles of the mandible against the base of the skull, resulting in concussion.(6) Mouthguards can provide positive reinforcement in the prevention of neck injuries.9(7) Mouthguards provide a psychologic benefit to athletes. Findings suggest athletes feel more confident and aggressive when they have the proper protection.10(8) Mouthguards fill edentulous spaces and thereby help support adjacent teeth. This allows removable prostheses to be taken out during athletic competition. Types of mouth-guards:Custom-fitted - Built and fitted to the shape of your mouth by a related professional. These mouthguards have been proven to reduce the number and extreme harshness of mouth injuries in sport and during training.Boil and bite-once the lining is softened in boiling water, the person bites on the mouthguard to help it take the shape of their mouth. The process of biting down onto the softened lining can decrease the guard thickness and therefore its effectiveness. These mouthguards can be uncomfortable to wear. Ready-made -these are ready to wear available over the counter at sports shopsand chemists. While these are the cheapest mouthguard, they also offer the least amount of protection. They are (taking up a lot of space for its weight) and hard to keep in the mouth due to their poor fit. Custom made mouthguards Teeth related Health Services Victoria (DHSV) recommends custom fitted mouthguards as these provide the most effective protection.A custom made mouthguard should: Fit snugly and be comfortable Allow (usual/commonly and regular/ healthy) breathing and swallowing Allow the wearer to speak Be odorless and (having no taste/rude and offensive) Be thick enough (4mm) to provide protection against hit/effect. Caring for your mouthguard case- 1)Take the mouthguard along to your teeth-related visits to secure/make sure of it still fits correctly. A mouthguard may need to be replaced as changes occur in your mouth, such as the eruption of permanent teeth or restoration. 2)Mouthguards need to be rinsed in cold water before use. After use, dry and store in a plastic container with air vents to allow the air to circulate. 3)Once in a while, clean it with soapy water and rinse completely.4)Mouthguards should be kept in a cool place as they can distort if left in the sun or hot water. 5)Remember: Mouthguards should be worn during training sessions and match play if there is a risk of contact with another person or object including balls, bats, sticks or racquets. fig-1 custom and boil&bite mouth-guardMouth guards should ideally be replaced after each season because they can wear down over time, making them less effective. Replacement is especially important for adolescents because their mouths continue to grow and teeth continue to develop into adulthood. Many athletes who play several sports have new mouth guards made when they go for their six-month dental checkup.Summary Dentists are encouraged to ask patients if they participate in team sports or other activities with risks of injury to the teeth, jaw and oral soft tissues (mouth, lip, tongue, or inner lining of the cheeks). The council recommend that people of all ages use aproperly fitted mouthguard in any sporting or recreational activity that may present/cause a risk of injury.