If you’ve seen NBA player Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors getting ready to take a free throw, you may have noticed that there’s one piece of gear he’s never without. It’s not a special pair of shoes or some lucky trunks peeking out from under his uniform. It’s his mouthguard… and the 2015 MVP and three-time all-star is renowned for moving it around in his mouth as he’s standing on the free-throw line.
Sports columnists have weighed in on it. Statisticians have analyzed whether he shoots free-throws better with the mouthguard in or part-way out. And the popular video game "NBA 2K16" features an animated clip of him with the plastic tooth-protector dangling from his mouth. So what’s his fixation with this oral appliance all about? According to Curry, it goes back to his college days. “I got elbowed in college my junior year and kind of busted my lip open. So I wore a mouthpiece after that every single game,” he told talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel in a recent interview.
Obviously, the mouthguard is working for him — and we think wearing it every time he plays is a great decision. While many people associate mouthguards with sports like boxing and football, accident statistics tell a different story. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, two ‘non-collision’ sports — basketball and baseball — cause the most injuries  to the face, jaws and teeth! Other sports that carry significant risks of orofacial injury include skiing, gymnastics, bicycling, soccer… and some two dozen more. That’s why a mouthguard is such an essential piece of protective gear for athletes at all levels.
What’s the best kind of mouthguard? The one you wear all the time! And that’s going to be the one that fits most comfortably and offers the highest level of protection. In other words, one that is custom-made just for you. There’s simply no other mouthguard that offers that degree of comfort and safety… not the “off-the-rack” ones at big box stores, not even the “boil-and-bite” types that you mold at home.
Only dentists can offer a custom-fabricated mouthguard made from a model of your own mouth. It’s sure to fit perfectly, and it covers more of your bite than the others. It’s quite reasonable in cost — especially when you compare it to the potential cost of dental work if you don’t wear one. Mouthguards are turning up more frequently in all levels of athletic competition… and this trend is likely to continue, as more and more athletes, coaches and parents learn about the extra margin of safety they provide.
Do mouthguards have other benefits? Stephen Curry seems to think so. He says chewing on his “kind of calms me down, especially when I’m at the free throw line, just getting my rhythm.” We’re glad it helps — and doubly glad that when the action’s heating up, he puts it back in his mouth where it belongs!
If you would like more information, read our article on Athletic Mouthguards .