The sporting world is one of ambiguity—analytics and data crunching can only get you so far. One must always factor in the human aspect of sports when making an assessment, as difficult as that may be in the ever-evolving landscape of sports.
While sports have rapidly changed in the digital age, one thing that has remained consistent is the need for safety. All athletes need protection—whether they're playing a non-contact sport like baseball, or the heavy-hitting, physical game of football.
When it comes to safety, technology has had a vast impact on the protection of athletes both current and future. I've played a variety of contact sports in my life, with my favorite being football. I'm not stranger to the wide-ranging types of injuries associated with playing football—I've played Pop Warner, JV, and Varsity, and have been participating in flag football leagues on and off since college.
Although flag football is supposed to be a mostly non-contact sport, I've played in some pretty competitive leagues. So competitive, in fact, that I managed to chip my tooth in last season's home opener, thanks to a chippy (pun intended) one-on-one battle in the trenches with a behemoth defensive end. Yeah, I know it's FLAG football, but we're competitive. Also, you should have seen the other guy.
Either way, it forced me to make some adjustments in the way I approach my recreational sports. After all, I'm not looking to make it to the NFL at 5' 9", 190, so there's really no reason to be paying all of this money for new teeth when I can simply just protect them.
I didn't want to just get some run-of-the-mill mouthguard that would only minimize risk on a small scale though. I wanted something tough.
After doing some research, I found the company SISU, and the array of different mouthguards they make. I was easily able to find one that fit my own reckless playing style, and in turn, give my mouth some much-needed protection. That might seem like simple enough motivation, but there were plenty of reasons why I opted for the SISU over its competitors.
They have different mouthguards for your own specifications.
After doing some homework, I decided to order a SISU mouthpiece off of Amazon (as I do with pretty much anything I'm interested in buying).
When I first checked out their website after seeing it on Amazon, one of the first things that really caught my eye was just how many different types of mouthguards there were depending on the athlete. This, obviously, isn't the case with most standard brands that just have one universal mouthguard.
In total, there are four different types (which is already four times the amount I expected). The four variations of the product are the Aero, Max, Go, and Junior. I decided to go with the Max, which is intended to cater to athletes playing high-impact sports (like football).
For comparison's sake, I'll go through each type and some of their main functions.
The aero is lightweight and durable—apt for high speed sports that involve long periods of running. This includes basketball, lacrosse, soccer, roller derby, and whatever other sports that require copious amounts of long-distance sprinting (or roller skating). This is probably the most versatile mouthpiece, as it can pretty much be used for any sport. With a standard thickness of 1.6 mm, you can't really go wrong with this one.
Again, this is the one I went with. If you're looking for a mouthpiece for high-impact sports like football, hockey, and rugby, as well as combat sports like boxing or MMA, the Max is it. In this case, the mouthpiece is 2.4 mm thick, making it a step up from the Aero (and the other mouthpieces) in that regard.
The Go is a mouthpiece for those who, well, don't really like wearing a mouthpiece. It's a minimalist's mouthguard, so to speak. Like the Aero, it's 1.6 mm, and works best with sports with minimal impact like baseball or soccer.
As you can tell from its name, the Junior is made for kids age 7-10 years old. Ironically enough, this one is the only mouthpiece that doesn't work with braces, so if your kid does happen to have them at an early age, you're going to have to opt for any of the other aforementioned types. The Aero, specifically, would be your best bet, as the Junior is essentially just a smaller iteration of it.
Now that you have a basic sense of the different variations of the mouthguards, let's get into what REALLY separates the SISU from other mouthpieces.
Well for starters, the company probably cares about your teeth more than any other company in the world. Seriously.
Each mouthpiece comes with a fully insured dental warranty worth up to $35,000 for a full year. While this is a great gesture, it speaks more to SISU's confidence in their own product—they're essentially gambling on themselves and their mouthguards. Why else would they have an incentive to include a $35,000 dental plan with a $20 product?
Perhaps the most user-friendly aspect about the SISU mouthguard, especially in regards to its competitors, is the fact that it can be molded and remodeled up to 20 times—at home!! There is no professional help required, unless you have braces. In that case, you'll need an orthodontist to help you.
Fitting the SISU mouthguard is actually unbelievably easy, and only takes a few simple steps.
All you need is a bowl of super hot (but not boiling) water, a mirror, and a fork.
After washing your hands (and the mouthpiece) with soap and water, put the mouthpiece into the hot water until it becomes malleable. You can use the fork, or whatever other utensil you decide to use, to determine if the mouthpiece is soft enough.
Then, lift the mouthpiece out of the water with your utensil, and make sure it doesn't fold over or warp in any way. At this point, it's ready to be molded. If this is the case, you could always place it back in the water for re-molding, but that's just superfluous at this point of the process.
Now, hold the mouthguard carefully, tilt your head back, and place it on your teeth. Bite down gently on the solid bar in the middle of the mouthpiece.
Press against the roof of your mouth with your tongue to further mold the top of the mouthguard. Then, use your fingers to flip up the top of the mouthguard onto the front of your teeth, and continue to press it against your teeth to mold for a perfect fit.
Once it's finally molded, close your lips, and begin to suck in air. This will harden the newly-molded mouthpiece for immediate use. This can be a little bit of a tricky process, but again, it can be re-molded up to 20 times, so there is a little bit of room for error. If you're still having difficulty, you might want to consider watching one of SISU's instructional videos on their YouTube channel.
The SISU mouthguard is simply a cut above the competition.
You'll find that this mouthpiece fits far better than any of the standard ones you might grab from some place like Modell's or Dick's Sporting Goods. Again, I've only personally used the Max, but that's enough to give me some hardcore faith in all of their other products. At the very least, the $35,000 of dental coverage gives me the confidence I need to play to the best of my ability.