A mouth guard is a flexible plastic appliances worn to protect the teeth, lips, cheeks, tongue and jaw. They are used during activities that can damage the teeth, most often during contact sports and – surprisingly – during sleep.Properly fitted mouth guards can also help reduce the risk of head, neck and brain injury by absorbing and dispersing some of the shock caused by blows to the chin. Considering that the mouth is the most commonly injured part of the body during contact sports, mouth guards should be an essential component in most physical activities. Nightguards are specially designed mouth guards worn to protect the teeth from grinding (bruxing) or clenching of the jaw during sleep.If you’re considering using a mouth guard, the following information will provide you with a good introduction to the appliance. For more detailed information about how this appliance may help you, we recommend that you consult a dentist with experience in fitting mouthguards.
What are some of the most common benefits of this appliance?
A Mouth guard worn during physical activity can prevent jaw fractures, concussions, cerebral hemorrhaging, laceration or bruising of the lips, cheeks or tongue and all sorts of dental trauma. Facial injuries, particularly dental trauma, can be painful and costly. Nightguards can help relieve the sore jaws, worn teeth, headaches and neck aches that may result from grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw while sleeping. Nightguards also prevent your teeth from wearing down or fracturing due to grinding.
What will happen at the initial consultation?
If you decide on a custom mouthguard, your dentist will make a cast of your teeth. You will probably be asked to bite down into a soft rubbery substance. The dentist will then use that cast to construct a mouthguard that perfectly fits your mouth.Take this opportunity to ask all the questions you have about the appliance. Learning everything you can about your options is the key to making an informed decision.
How are the treatments performed?
There are three types of mouthguards:
- Stock mouth guards come in many shapes and sizes. However, they are bulky and can interfere with breathing and speech. They can be adjusted somewhat by trimming the edges, but this does not usually make them much more comfortable. Furthermore, the teeth must be kept clenched to hold the mouthguard in place. Not only are they awkward, but they offer the poorest protection. Stock mouthguards can be found at most drug and sporting goods stores.
- Mouth-formed protectors come in two styles and are found at most sporting goods stores as well. The first type is lined with acrylic or rubber, which molds to the teeth and then sets to keep its shape. The second type is referred to as a boil-and-bite mouthguard. The mouthguard is softened in boiling water. While the guard is warm the user bites into the plastic, leaving an impression of the teeth. The boil-and-bite guards can be re-softened and shaped if you don’t get the right fit on the first try. Mouth-formed guards provide better protection than the stock mouthguards but can still be bulky and interfere with breathing and speech.
- Custom-made mouthguards are individually designed by your dentist. Since custom mouthguards are made from a cast of your teeth, they provide the best comfort and protection. They are more expensive, but most people report that they are well worth it. Not only are they more comfortable, but they also optimize healthy breathing. Custom mouthguards can be made in several colors and with team logos.
Nightguards are custom mouthguards made for the whole mouth, or just part of the mouth. Usually a spacer is attached to keep the rest of your teeth from touching. Your dentist will advise you on which type of guard is best for your condition.