Protect your precious teeth with a mouthguard
Mouth guards are worn over your teeth to protect them from injury, either from teeth grinding or during sports.
Why wear a mouthguard?
Typically, mouthguards are made to cover your upper teeth only. In some cases, if you wear braces or a dental appliance on your lower jaw, your dentist may recommend a mouthguard for your lower teeth as well.
- If you grind your teeth at night a nocturnal bite plate or bite splint may be prescribed to prevent tooth wear and damage.
- If you play sports, you know accidents can happen. A mouthguard can help you avoid chipped or broken teeth, nerve damage to a tooth, or even tooth loss.
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You have choices
There are several types of mouth guards for you to chose from:
- Stock mouthguards are inexpensive, and can be bought at most sporting good stores. The drawback to over the counter mouthguards is the fit. Little can be done to adjust them, and they can be bulky, and make breathing and talking more difficult. They don’t offer very much protection and most dentists do not recommend their use.
- Boil and bite mouthguards can also be purchased at sporting goods stores. They can provide a better fit than standard mouthguards because they mold to your teeth when you heat up the thermoplastic material, and shape it around your teeth with your fingers and tongue.
- Custom-fitted mouthguards are designed specifically for you. To fabricate your custom mouthguard, your dentist takes an impression of your teeth and, sends it to a lab where it is molded. The materials used in the fabrication of a custom mouthguard, along with the cost do mean it is the most expensive of the three options but, because it provides the most comfort and protection, many people find it a worthwhile investment.
- Occlusial splints are special mouthguards designed to protect your teeth against nighttime teeth grinding – also known as bruxism. Occlusial splints work by limiting your jaw muscle movement while you sleep, and provide protection from any grinding you subconsciously do. You can buy over the counter occlusial splints, or you can have one custom fitted by your dentist. As noted above, a custom fit usually provides better comfort and protection.
- Sports mouthguards can help protect you from injuries while you play. In fact, many people consider a sports mouthguard an essential piece of equipment for an athlete of any age. While collision and contact sports, like football or boxing put you at a higher risk for a mouth injury, non-contact activities, such as gymnastics or skating can also cause oral injuries.
Do you need a mouthguard?
Mouthguards can be used by anyone. If you play sports – even non-contact sports – we recommend using a mouthguard. If you wake up with headaches, an aching jaw or don’t feel well-rested in the morning, you could be suffering from bruxism, and my benefit from an occlusial splint.
Your dentist is your best resource in finding the best mouthguard for you. An effective mouth guard should be comfortable, durable, easy to clean, and should not obstruct your breathing or speech.
You only have one set of adult teeth, and keeping them as log as you possible can is the best strategy for your overall oral health.