Mouth guards protect the teeth from impact during activities where physical contact may occur. Mouth guards fit over the teeth, helping to prevent them from being knocked out, and hold the jaw together more tightly. When fitted properly, a mouth guard will distribute force evenly throughout the mouth, lessening the chances for injuries to the rest of the head, including the jaws, and helping to prevent concussions.
You have several options to choose from when selecting a mouth guard. You can purchase a generic mouth guard, or you can meet with your dentist to receive a custom mouth guard.
Generic mouth guards can be purchased at most sporting goods stores. These generic mouth guards will come in the sizes of small, medium, and large, and possible in a one-size-fits all option. These guards are prepared to fit your mouth by being dipped in very hot water until soft and pliable, and then cooled down so that it can be placed in the mouth and gently bitten down on. While this may seem like a cost-effective way to protect your mouth and teeth, be careful. Always consult a dentist first.
A custom mouth guard created by a dentist will offer a high level of protection. At the end of the day, a mouth guard crafted by a dentist will also hold up better and fit better, especially for patients involved in high-contact sports, than a store-bought mouth guard. In both scenarios, you will probably be better off paying the extra and having your dentist make a mouth guard for you.