How to Boil A Mouthguard?

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Are you searching for a simple guide to how to boil a mouthguard? If so, here it is.

Mouthguards are protective devices worn over the teeth and gums to help prevent dental injuries. They are commonly used in sports and other physical activities to protect the teeth and mouth from impact or collision. They work by absorbing the shock of impact and can therefore reduce the risk of dental injuries such as chipped teeth, broken teeth, or cuts to the gums and lips.

Mouthguards are also sometimes used to protect the teeth and mouth in other situations, such as during sleep to prevent grinding or clenching of the teeth (bruxism) or, to protect the teeth and gums while undergoing medical procedures.

Before we begin, it is important to note that not all mouthguards have to be boiled in order to fit them to your mouth. Basically, there are three main types of mouthguards – stock mouthguards, custom-fitted mouthguards and boil-and-bite mouthguards. Only boil-and-bite mouthguard have to be fitted at home and they are the ones we will be focusing on in this article.

By contrast, stock mouthguard are pre-formed when you buy them at either a pharmacy or a sporting goods store. Custom-fitted mouthguards are made by a dentist or dental technician and are tailored to the specific shape of your totally unique teeth. It follows that custom-fitted mouthguards are the most expensive option, but they also provide the best fit, protection, and comfort while wearing them. Boiling a custom-fitted mouthguard as part of the fitting process is usually handled by your dentist.

Only boil-and-bite mouthguards require that you, as the name suggests, boil and bite them in order to create a proper fit, so they are the ones we will be focusing on in this how-to guide.

Why a custom fit is so important

You may wonder how significant is the perfect fit when it comes to mouth guards, and there are several good reasons for it.

A custom fit doesn’t just make the mouthguard more comfortable to wear – it also impacts how effectively it is able to do what it is supposed to do, which is of course to protect your teeth from the teeth grinding or damage during contact sports.

How to boil a mouth guard: Step by step

These are the straightforward steps for boiling a mouthguard and fitting your mouthguard:

Step 1: Prepare a pot of boiling water

First and foremost: Fill a pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Then pour the boiling water into a cup. Don’t be stingy – you’ll need enough boiling water to completely cover and immerse the mouthguard.

Step 2: Immerse the mouthguard in boiling water

Step two is to carefully insert the mouthguard into the hot water using tongs or a slotted spoon. Be careful – don’t let the boiling water splash on you.

Step 3: Leave for the recommended amount of time

Now, immerse the mouthguard in the boiling hot water for the recommended time, which is typically 30 seconds to 1 minute but can vary depending on the specific brand of mouthguard. Read the instructions it comes with to make sure you get it right, or that you at least come close.

Step 4: Dip the mouth guard in ice cold water

Once your mouthguard has gone soft, remove it from the boiling water and immediately immerse it in cool water instead. This halts the boiling process and cools the mouthguard off before you can insert it into your mouth.

Only move on to the next step of the fitting process when the mouth guard is no longer uncomfortably hot, or you might hurt the inside of your mouth.

STEP 5: Place the mouthguard in your mouth, centering the channel around the upper teeth

When you fit your mouthguard to your teeth, it’s a good idea to center the channels around the upper teeth. This helps you achieve the best fit and with that, the best level of protection. A mouthguard is designed to protect the vulnerable front teeth rather than the molars, which are more squat and sturdy, so when creating a custom fit for a mouth guard you should always prioritise the front teeth.

Step 6: Mould the mouth guard to the shape of your teeth

Once the mouth guard has been moulded around your front teeth, press it in place over the rest of your teeth, too. Bite down gently to create pressure and shape the mouthguard to your teeth. You might need to use your fingers to mold the mouthguard into the desired shape. Take your time.

Before you call it a day, your mouth guard should fit snugly while still allowing for some wiggle room so that you can put it on and take it off without it feeling much too tight and really uncomfortable.

Here’s a good idea for you: Place your tongue against the roof of your mouth and, with a sucking motion, you’ll easily be able to draw out all excess water and air.

Step 7: Place in cold water again to set the shape

Once the mouthguard has been properly shaped to fit your mouth, rinse it in cold water to ensure that the new shape is set firmly in place. Don’t rush it; leave your mouthguard in the cool water for several minutes to allow it to set completely.

Step 8: Test the mouth guard to make sure it fits comfortably

At long last you’ll be ready to remove the mouthguard from the water and wear it for a few minutes to test the fit. If the fit isn’t as secure or comfortable as you’d like, simply repeat the boiling process and reshape the mouthguard until you end up with a truly customised fit.

Frequently asked questions

Do all mouth guards have to be boiled?

Not all mouthguards have to be boiled before they can be fitted to your mouth – only so-called boil and bite mouthguards do.

In other words, whether you need to boil a mouthguard to fit depends on the type of mouthguard you’ve decided to go for. Stock mouthguards don’t require any boiling or fitting, and neither do the custom made mouthguards you can get professionally made by a dentist.

How long do you boil mouthpieces for?

The boiling time for mouthguards varies from product to product, so always follow the instructions.

Having said that, most boil-and-bite mouthguards should be boiled for a short period of time, typically 30 seconds to about a minute.

How long do you leave a mouthguard in water?

After the mouthguard has been properly shaped and cooled, it should be immersed in cold water. This’ll help set the new shape and prevent it from warping. Let it sit in the cold water for a few minutes (3-5 minutes should be plenty).

Dr Febin Mary George - Editor

With more than 10 years as a dental surgeon, Dr Febin Mary George is passionate about educating consumers around the world to help look after their teeth.

She completed her Bachelor of Surgery at the Century Institute of Dental Science and Research Centre in 2010.

Alongside editing the International Journal of Dental Clinics she has also written for major publications including Thrive Global.