There are a few common reasons why mouthguards tend to wear down over a period of use, and one of the top such reasons for many athletes is chewing. Whether consciously or subconsciously, chewing on mouthguards is common – and while certain types of chewing, such as those where the mouthguard is properly aligned in the mouth and providing support, are normal and expected, other kinds will risk wearing it down and making it less useful.
At Damage Control Mouthguards, we’re happy to offer custom mouthguards for a wide variety of sports and activities, from basketball and hockey mouthguards to MMA, boxing and numerous others. In our experience, mouthguard chewing is a damaging cycle – one that often begins due to fit and protection concerns, but will actually worsen these problems as the behavior continues. In this two-part blog series, we’ll go over some basics on why mouthguard chewing often takes place, the impact it has on athletes, and some basic tips to avoid it.
Basic Fit Concerns
By far the most common reason mouthguard chewing takes place: The mouthguard does not fit properly. This may be due to too little material present, which will cause the mouthguard to be too loose; when this happens, rather than sitting flush in your upper teeth and moving in coordination with them as you compete, the mouthguard will instead sit in an in-between area. Whether consciously or otherwise, athletes wearing loose mouthguards will often end up chewing on them as a method of simply holding them in place.
On the flip side, there may be too much material present on some mouthguards. In these cases, this extra bulk will be uncomfortable and will often be chewed on as a reflex, quickly wearing it down and limiting its protective qualities.
Chewing and Focus
We mentioned above that mouthguard chewing is often a vicious cycle, and this is seen in the realm of athlete focus. When a mouthguard doesn’t fit properly or is uncomfortable, it will distract from your 100% focus on the athletic task at-hand. Chewing is often a subconscious way of diverting that focus – but all that chewing does, in reality, is worsen the mouthguard’s fit issues and exacerbate focus concerns.
And of course, the largest overall issue that this cycle creates is a loss of protection. The more you chew on a mouthguard, the less likely it is to fit closely to your mouth and provide you with the kind of security you need while competing. In part two of our series, we’ll go over some basic tips – starting with fit – that will help you avoid getting into the harmful cycle of mouthguard chewing.