Mouth guard

What is the Definition of Mouth Guard in American Football?

Mouth guards play a crucial role in American football, offering protection and safety to players during the intense physical encounters common to the sport. These essential pieces of equipment serve several purposes, primarily to shield the teeth, jaw, and facial bones from impact-related injuries and reduce the risk of suffering concussions. Mouth guards come in various shapes, sizes, and materials to suit individual preferences, ensuring a proper fit and comfort for each player.

Understanding the different types of mouth guards available and their specific purposes is fundamental when selecting the right mouth guard for any football player. Choosing the appropriate model for maximum protection and comfort significantly enhances the athlete’s confidence and performance. Proper care and maintenance of mouth guards ensure they remain efficient and last longer, eliminating unnecessary costs throughout a player’s career.

Key Takeaways

  • Mouth guards provide essential protection in American football
  • Proper fit and comfort contribute to player performance and confidence
  • Regular care and maintenance extend the lifespan of a mouth guard

Purpose of a Mouth Guard


A mouth guard is a protective device used in American Football to cover the teeth, gums, and surrounding areas to prevent and reduce injury to these parts of the mouth. It works by preventing the jaws from coming together fully, thereby reducing the risk of jaw, teeth, and gum injuries. Mouth guards are an essential piece of equipment in high-contact sports like football where impacts often occur.

Injury Prevention

In American Football, players often take solid head-to-head shots and have a natural reflex to clench their teeth to absorb the impact. Using a mouth guard plays a crucial role in absorbing shock, distributing the force, and decreasing the risk of dental injuries. An effective mouth guard acts as a crash helmet for the teeth and jaws, reducing the chances of chipping, breaking a tooth, or causing harm to the gingival tissue, lips, and jaws.

Mouth guard use is mandatory in certain instances and leagues within American football. Some organizations and teams have their own specific rules regarding the usage of mouth guards, and players may face penalties for not wearing them during games. Compliance with these requirements helps maintain player safety and minimize the occurrence of dental injuries in the sport.

Types of Mouth Guards

American football players wear mouth guards to protect their teeth and reduce the risk of orofacial injury during gameplay. There are three main types of mouth guards popular among athletes, each with its own set of features and benefits. In this section, we will discuss these types, which include Boil and Bite Mouth Guards, Stock Mouth Guards, and Custom-Fitted Mouth Guards.

Boil and Bite Mouth Guards

Boil and Bite Mouth Guards are a popular option because they offer a semi-custom fit. They are made from a thermoplastic material, which softens when heated. To use a Boil and Bite Mouth Guard, the athlete places it in boiling water for a short period and then bites down on it, allowing the softened material to mold around their teeth. This process results in a comfortable fit that provides more protection than stock mouth guards. Some key features of Boil and Bite Mouth Guards include:

  • Easy-to-mold thermoplastic material
  • Affordable price point
  • Good fit and protection

Stock Mouth Guards

Stock Mouth Guards are pre-formed and ready to use out of the box. They are the least expensive option among the three types of mouth guards, making them accessible for all budgets. However, they may not fit as well as custom-fitted or boil and bite options. These mouth guards are available in various sizes and designs, but the lack of customization can lead to a less secure fit during gameplay. Key features of Stock Mouth Guards include:

  • Inexpensive, accessible option
  • Available in different sizes and designs
  • Lack of customization may result in a less secure fit

Custom-Fitted Mouth Guards

Custom-Fitted Mouth Guards are designed specifically for the individual athlete, offering the highest level of comfort, fit, and protection. These mouth guards are created by a professional, such as a dentist or a specialized lab, using an impression of the athlete’s teeth. Custom-Fitted Mouth Guards provide the most accurate fit and optimal protection, but they come at a higher cost than the other options. Some benefits of Custom-Fitted Mouth Guards are:

  • Optimal fit and protection
  • Created using an impression of the athlete’s teeth
  • Professional expertise for a precise fit

Each type of mouth guard has its advantages and disadvantages. American football players should carefully consider factors such as budget, desired level of protection, and comfort when selecting the best mouth guard for their needs.

Proper Fit and Comfort

Fitting Process

To achieve a proper fit and comfort for a mouth guard in American Football, follow these steps:

  1. Boil and bite: Most mouthguards require a boil-and-bite process. Place the mouthguard in boiling water for the specified time, typically 30 seconds to 1 minute. Once the material softens, remove it from the water and let it cool down for a few seconds.
  2. Bite down: Carefully place the mouthguard in your mouth and bite down firmly. Apply pressure with your fingers and tongue to ensure the mouthguard molds to the contours of your teeth and gums.
  3. Cooling: After a few seconds (usually 20 to 30), remove the mouth guard from your mouth and place it in cold water to harden. Once hardened, try it on again to ensure it fits correctly and comfortably.

Size and Shape

In American Football, mouth guards come in different sizes and shapes to accommodate various players’ needs. Consider the following when choosing the right size and shape for you:

  • Age and tooth development: For youth players under the age of 11, a smaller mouth guard is recommended. Adult players should opt for adult-sized mouth guards that provide ample protection for fully developed teeth.
  • Braces or dental work: Special mouth guards are available for players with braces or dental work. These guards have additional padding and features to protect fragile dental structures.
  • Thickness: While thinner mouth guards may feel more comfortable and less intrusive, they may not offer as much protection. Thicker mouth guards are better for players who experience consistent contact in games. For example, a 6mm thick mouthguard might be a better option for players who need extra protection.
  • Breathability and speech: Some mouth guards may cover the entire mouth, which could inhibit speaking and breathing slightly. Look for mouth guards that minimize these inconveniences while still protecting your teeth and gums.

By following the right fitting process and considering the appropriate size and shape, you can ensure your mouth guard offers the ideal balance of protection, comfort, and functionality in American Football.

Care and Maintenance


A crucial aspect of maintaining your football mouthguard is regular cleaning. Rinse the mouthguard after each use to remove any residue, and clean it thoroughly every morning. Using a soft-bristle toothbrush with non-abrasive toothpaste, gently scrub the mouthguard’s surface to remove bacteria and debris. It’s essential to avoid using harsh cleaners, which can damage the mouthguard material.

Once cleaned, dry the mouthguard using a clean towel or paper towel instead of shaking it. Place the guard on a clean surface and allow it to air-dry for about 30 minutes. Always make sure to store your mouthguard in a protective case when not in use—this helps maintain its shape and keeps it clean until your next game or practice session.


Over time, even with proper care and maintenance, a mouthguard will naturally begin to lose its protective qualities and require replacement. It’s essential to periodically inspect the mouthguard for signs of wear and tear, such as thinning, cracking, or an uncomfortable fit. A compromised mouthguard could lead to inadequate protection for your teeth, gums, and soft tissue during a game.

Generally, a mouthguard should be replaced every sports season or every six months, depending on how often it’s used. However, it’s good practice to consult with a dental professional for personalized advice about the lifespan of a specific mouthguard. In case you notice any discrepancies in the fit or condition of your mouthguard before the recommended replacement period, it’s best to replace it immediately to ensure optimal protection.

Famous Brands and Models

When it comes to mouth guards in American football, there are several reputable brands and models that are highly recommended for players. These mouth guards are renowned for their comfort, protection, and durability. This section will discuss some of the famous brands and models available in the market.

Shock Doctor is a well-known brand in the sports equipment industry, and their mouth guards are widely used by football players. Their flagship model, the Shock Doctor Gel Max, is highly popular for its exceptional comfort and shock absorption properties. It features a gel-fit liner that conforms to the teeth and a comfortable exoskeleton that provides comprehensive protection.

Battle is another top-rated brand for football mouthguards. Their Battle Oxygen Predator mouthguard is designed with a SCUBA breathing channel technology to maximize airflow, making it easier for athletes to breathe while playing. This model is suitable for players with braces and has been developed by athletic, dental, and medical experts.

SISU offers an innovative, ultra-thin mouthguard called the SISU Aero. This mouthguard is built with a unique perforated construction, allowing for optimal airflow and speech clarity, so players can communicate effectively during games. It also provides excellent protection and requires less bulk compared to traditional mouthguards.

Under Armour is a well-established brand in athletic gear, and their Under Armour ArmourBite mouthguard is highly regarded for its patented Power Wedges™ technology that helps improve strength and endurance. It features a fitting technology that customizes to the individual’s teeth and bite pattern to provide a secure and comfortable fit.

These are just a few of the notable brands and models of mouth guards used in American football. Each model offers its own set of features tailored towards providing comfort, protection, and performance enhancement for football players. When selecting a mouthguard, athletes should prioritize finding one that best suits their specific needs and preferences.