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What Is a Gum Shield?

Most hockey players wear gum shields.
A gum shield protects the teeth and jaws during physical activity.
People who wear braces or retainers can also benefit from the use of a gum shield to protect their expensive pieces of hardware.
People who play sports that have a high risk of injury, such as skateboarding, may wear a gum shield.
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  • Written By: C.B. Fox
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2014
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Gum shields, or mouth guards, are simple devices that are placed in the mouth in order to protect the teeth, gums, and tongue. They are often used in sports, especially those sports in which players come into contact with one another. There are many types of gum shield available. They can be purchased pre-formed or specially manufactured to fit a specific individual.

The most common use for a gum shield is to protect the teeth and mouth during contact sports. These devices can be easily placed in the mouth before beginning to play and taken out again when finished. Dentists recommend that people of all ages use a gum shield while engaged in sports such as boxing, soccer, football, or hockey, where the risk of colliding with another player is great. People who play sports that have a high risk of injury, such as skateboarding or biking, can also wear a gum shield to protect their mouths from injury.

When used properly, a gum shield can help protect many different parts of the mouth from injury. It can prevent teeth from breaking or being knocked out and can also keep a person from biting down on the tongue or lips accidentally. People who wear braces or retainers can also benefit from the use of a gum shield because the device can protect these expensive pieces of hardware.

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There are a few different types of gum shield available. The simplest can be purchased from a sporting goods store, but these are not specially formed to fit an individual’s mouth. As such, they are often bulky and do not offer much in the way of protection. It is possible to purchase a gum shield made from materials that can be heated and molded at home. Though these offer greater protection than the one-size-fits-all variety, they do not work as well as custom-made gum shields that are made from a mold in the dentist’s office.

It is important to keep a gum shield clean and well sanitized so that it does not harbor germs. It needs to be rinsed before and after each use and can be cleaned with a tooth brush. These devices do wear out, so it is important to have a dentist check them for damage regularly.

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Discuss this Article

Ruggercat68
Post 2

I remember having to wear custom mouthguards back in my high school football days. My dentist had to take a mold of my teeth and send it off to a company that made gum shields and other customized protection. I really didn't like wearing them, but after seeing someone else get his teeth knocked out after a tackle, I made a point of wearing them all the time.

AnswerMan
Post 1

I play on my company's softball team, so I have to buy a gum shield or two at the beginning of the season. I can't afford to buy custom mouthguards like the pros wear, but the ones I buy can be made to fit my mouth precisely. I soak the sports mouth guard in a pot of boiling water for a few seconds, let it cool down a little and them fit it in my mouth. The material forms around my teeth, and once it cools down I can wear it for the game.

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