After my post lamenting the fact that many NBA players still "don't get it" when it comes to wearing a mouth guard, one of my readers asked a great question - which mouth guard would I recommend?
A while back, I wrote about the most common types of mouth guards out there.
A little while later (and after more than 35 years of playing basketball without one- yeah, I'm old) I decided that I'd have to buy my own mouth guard to avoid being a hypocritical "do as I say, not as I do" advice-giver.
I knew that a simple plastic mouth guard wouldn't work (I'd seen too many people gagging and drooling while wearing one) so I went and bought a Shock Doctor brand "boil and bite" type mouth guard from the local Dick's Sporting Goods store . After following the directions to make a custom fit, I used it for the next month or so. It was OK, but not completly comfortable and sometimes made it hard to call out picks/switches, etc.
Finally, I went to my local dentist and had them make an impression of my bite. They sent this out to a company and a few weeks later, I returned to their office to have my custom-molded mouth guard fit. At first, it felt pretty much like the boil and bite I was using before, but, after they trimmed it a few times, it slipped over my upper teeth, fell easily into place, and hardly felt like it was there. Total cost was around $150.
Needless to say, I've been most happy with my mouth guard, wear it when I play, and have been thankful that I was wearing it on several occasions when an errant(?) elbow hit my mouth.
Now I know that not everybody can afford a custom molded mouth guard from their dentist, and I know that younger players might outgrow several pairs of mouth guards, having to buy new ones every so often. I also know there are other options, like Sportsguard Custom Mouthguards where you make your own mold, send it off to the company, and then get your personalized mouth guard in the mail a few weeks later. It's less expensive ($55-$65), and is an option for those do-it-yourself ballers.
So what's the best option for you? Every dentist will tell you that the only one that works well is the custom-made guard from your dentist's office. While I agree with them, not everyone can afford this. Bottom-line - "The best mouth guard is the one that's worn".
So, while I'd recommend getting a custom-made mouth guard from your dentist, you've got to try the different types out yourself and decide.