CLIFTON PARK — For the past three years, Shenendehowa Central School District hockey players’ teeth have been protected by customized mouth guards created and donated by Sergey Berenshteyn.
This year, the owner of Clifton Park Orthodontics and Adirondack Orthodontics in Latham and Albany made 27 of the guards for the team. Custom mouth guards can cost more than $100 each.
When Berenshteyn opened his Clifton Park office in 2011, he noticed that many of his clients were longtime hockey players. He started making the mouth guards to raise awareness about his practice and as a way to connect with the community, Berenshteyn said.
The guards he makes fit like a retainer but have the thickness of a normal mouth guard.
Non-custom mouth guards, available at various sports supply stores, still are formed to a player’s teeth, typically by being softened in boiling water before biting down on them to make them fit, explained sophomore defenseman Chris Lasher. But generic devices don’t fit as well and often come loose, he said. They also fall apart easily, Lasher said.
“A lot of people don’t wear them during practice so they don’t waste them,” Lasher said.
Since he started wearing Berenshteyn’s mouth guards last year, Lasher has only needed one per season.
“You don’t feel them there,” he said.
“It’s definitely convenient,” said Christina Lasher, Chris’ mother of Berenshteyn’s service. She found out about the mouth guards through the hockey coach.
When he started making the guards, Berenshteyn made them by taking molds of players’ teeth, just as he would when fitting a retainer. He would then send the molds off to a manufacturer to make the actual guards. That process took a few weeks, and often, the season started by the time the guards were finished, he said.
“This year, we bought a machine, and we bought the materials, so we can make the mouth guards in the office,” he said.
Now, players can pick up their mouth guards the day after a fitting. It takes about two minutes to make the guards, Berenshteyn said.
The custom guards even accommodate players who have braces, Berenshteyn said, adding that he plans to continue offering the service for the foreseeable future.