Mouth guards are coverings worn over teeth, and are often used to protect teeth from injury from teeth grinding and during sports.
There are 3 types of mouth guards:
- Stock Mouth Guards are preformed and come ready to wear. They are inexpensive and can be bought at most sporting goods stores and department stores. However, little can be done to adjust their fit, they are bulky, make breathing and talking difficult, and they provide little or no protection. Dentists do not recommend their use.
- Boil and bite mouth guards also can be bought at most sporting goods stores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. The “boil and bite” mouth guard is made from thermoplastic material. It is placed in hot water to soften, then placed in the mouth and shaped around the teeth using finger and tongue pressure.
- Custom-fitted mouth guards are individually designed and made in a dental office or professional laboratory based on your dentist’s instructions.
First, your dentist will make an impression of your teeth and a mouth guard is then molded over the model using a special material. Due to the use of special materials and because of the extra time and work involved, this custom-made mouth guard is more expensive than the other types, but it provides the most comfort, protection, and is certainly the better choice.
Who needs a Mouth Guard?
Mouth guards are recommended for everyone that plays contact sports, such as football, boxing, soccer, ice hockey, basketball, lacrosse, and field hockey.
Adults and children who grind their teeth at night should have a nocturnal bite plate or bite splint made to prevent damage to teeth and gums.
Why you should use Night Mouth Guards.
If you suffer from bruxism or teeth grinding problems, night mouth guards are the easiest solution. Bruxism is the medical term given to teeth grinding. It is that annoying habit of people that make clenching sounds with their teeth as they sleep.
Generally speaking, there are two kinds of night mouth guards. The most popular one is the type you can easily buy over-the-counter. The other type of mouth guard is one especially created by a dentist to fit onto your teeth. These are referred to as the custom-fit night mouth guards and they may take some time and money to create.
The use of a night mouth guard is very important for bruxism patients. For one thing, these simple devices can protect the surface of your teeth. Severe bruxism can cause damage to teeth including chipping, cracking, and even loss of teeth. It can also contribute to recession of the gums around the teeth.
Using night mouth guards for bruxism can also keep headaches and jaw pains from developing. Using night mouth guards do more than just keep your teeth from getting broken or scratched. It will also ensure you of a long and restful sleep, night after night.
Patients suffering from bruxism are advised to consult with their dentist to address the problem. Night mouth guards are not the only solution to the problem. For some patients, surgery may be required. Others would need a few sessions of behavioral correction therapy to solve the problem. A custom-fit night guard from your dentist is the best treatment, by far.
Can I wear a Mouth Guard if I Wear Braces?
Yes. Since an injury to the face could damage braces or other fixed appliances, a properly fitted mouth guard may be particularly important for people who wear braces or have fixed bridge work. Your dentist orthodontist can determine the mouth guard that will provide the best protection for your unique dental condition. An important reminder: do not wear any orthodontic retainers or other removable appliance during any contact sports or during any recreational activities that put your mouth at risk for injury.
How Do I Care for My Mouth Guard?
To care for your mouth guard:
- Rinse your mouth guard with cold water or with a mouth rinse before and after each use and/or clean it with toothpaste and a toothbrush.
- Occasionally clean the mouth guard in cool, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly.
- Place the mouth guard in a firm, perforated container to store and transport it. This permits air circulation and helps to prevent damage.
- Protect the mouth guard from high temperatures – such as hot water, hot surfaces, or direct sunlight – to minimize distorting its shape.
- Occasionally check the mouth guard for general wear. If you find holes or tears in it or if it becomes loose or causes discomfort, replace it.
- Bring the mouth guard to each regularly scheduled dental visit to have your dentist examine it.