There are four types of mouthguards presently available:
The stock mouthguard is typically the most inexpensive mouthguard available in most sporting goods stores, yet it offers the least amount of protection. You are unable to adjust a stock mouthguard to conform to the teeth; therefore they are likely to either slip off the mouth if too big, or pinch the gingiva, causing discomfort. Either situation could be rather distracting for the player and chances are the mouthguard will find its way into the equipment bag on the bench. A mouthguard that is sitting on the bench or sitting in a hockey bag isn't going to provide any protection
"Boil and Bite" mouthguards are available in sporting goods stores, and are also considered relatively inexpensive. The difference between a stock mouthguard and a boil and bite mouthguard is substantial. Hot water is all you need to adjust the plastic comfortably around the teeth. Keep in mind that forming a mouthguard correctly around the teeth and gums is not always as easy as it may seem.
Custom-made mouthguards are obtained through your dental office. Available in as little as one week, the first appointment involves taking an impression of the maxillary teeth to be sent to the dental laboratory where the mouthguard will be fabricated. Custom mouthguards allow for slight adjustments as requested by the players to satisfy their preference.
Which mouthguard offers the best protection?
As dentists and health professionals interested in injury prevention, we do not recommend store bought boil and bite mouthguards to our patients and athletic teams. The public deserves the best quality of care in injury prevention and boil and bite mouthguards DO NOT provide this quality.
The custom made mouthguards are designed by your dentist and are the best of all types of mouth protectors. They fulfill all the criteria for adaptation, retention, comfort, and stability of material. They interfere the least with speaking and studies have shown that the custom made mouthguard offers the best protection against dental injury.