June 17, 2016 3 min read
The old riddle goes, if you call a dog's tail a leg, how many legs does the dog have? Answer: Four. Saying a tail is a leg does not make it leg. There are many companies in the mouth guard industry today that call their boil and bite mouth guards custom mouth guards. Calling a boil and bite mouth guard a custom mouth guard does not make it so. There is not a single type of mouth guard in the industry that compares with the quality, fit, and protective benefits a custom mouth guard offers.
Below is a fascinating video from 1972 of dentist Dr. Richard Charlick fabricating a custom mouth guard from a thermoforming apparatus he pieced together using a vacuum cleaner and a shower head. He heats up the the thermoforming plastic material by boiling it in water, and then uses his vacuum cleaner as the suck down for the material unto the models. Custom mouth guard fabrication technology has made huge strides since 1972. A true custom mouth guard is a hand fabricated mouth guard using thermoforming technology to form hard and soft polymer around positive moulds of your teeth and gum area, after a negative imprint of your dentition is taken. There are two types of thermoforming processes which are used for custom mouth guard fabrication. The first type is vacuum thermoforming (as seen in the first video though there are more modern machinery for this method), and the second type is high pressure thermoforming (as seen in the second video). Here at Damage Control we use high pressure thermoforming. Please watch the second video to understand the intricate details that go into customizing a mouth guard to the anatomy of your teeth.
A boil and bite mouth guard, no matter how snug it fits, is not custom mouth guard. There are companies today like SISU mouth guards that are calling their over the counter hard plastic boil and bite mouth guards custom mouth guards. Their mouth guards do not offer protection to the soft tissue and may cause lacerations because of the hard plastic exterior their mouth guards have. This is even stated in their FAQs on their website:
Nothing offers superior protection to your teeth, and soft tissue (lips, gums, tongue and cheeks) better than a custom mouth guard. Never forget the importance mouth guards provide in protecting your soft tissue as well as your teeth. After all, that is why mouth guards were initially invented. In the early 1900s a British dentist invented the mouth guard to protect boxer's lips, and gums so they could fight longer battles (boxing matches were typically 15 rounds sometimes longer) without running the risk of the referee stopping the fight due to teeth cutting into and through the boxer's lips. Britain to this day still calls their mouth guards gum shields. In our estimations a mouth guard that gives no concern to soft tissue, and jaw protection does not qualify as a custom mouth guard, or even mouth guard for that matter. If teeth is the focus of protection, and not other areas of the mouth, then the product is a teeth guard, and not a mouth guard. A true mouth guard not only protects your teeth, but it also protects your gums, cheeks, tongue and jaw. Also, custom mouth guards will last you up to five years (often longer) if taken care of properly. We have some clients that are going on their sixth year with custom mouth guards they purchased from Damage Control.
An Old 1972 Video of a Dentist fabricating a custom mouth guard:
Below is a video of dentist Dr. Ray Padilla using the now sophisticated machines Damage Control uses (Drufomat), and techniques Damage Control Mouthguards employ in their fabrication process. Our custom artwork application to the mouth guards are different than what is shown in this video. I have had the fortunate opportunity to learn custom mouth guard fabrication techniques under Dr. Ray Padilla from seminars I took at the Academy of Sports Dentistry. Enjoy!
Modern Day Fabrication of a Custom Mouth Guard: