A mouth guard is a dental device designed to protect the mouth, teeth, tongue, and gums from injury. This is usually for people who are active in sports and other physical activities.
Aside from serving as mouth protectors in contact sports, some mouth guards are for teeth protection against involuntary grinding and clenching. Other dentists also use mouth guards as part of therapy for snoring, bruxism, and TMJ disorder.
Types of Mouth Guards
There are many dental-related injuries that can occur from playing hard physical sports. Some of these include chipped tooth, cracked tooth, fractured cusp, and cuts on the lips.
While dental professionals can usually treat these injuries, the patient might feel mild to moderate pain. Moreover, athletes without protective gears can suffer from severe injuries like tooth displacement, extrusion, and tooth loss.
It is always better to prevent teeth trauma by wearing mouthguards while playing sports.
Stock mouth protectors
These are mouth guards that are ready-made and can be bought from stores. Stock mouth guards are distributed in different sizes (usually categorised into small, medium, and large) with very little room for adjustments.
Pros: The most obvious advantage of buying stock mouth protectors is the cost as these are the most inexpensive. Another benefit is convenience. These mouthguards are available right away, perfect for those who have no time to wait.
Cons: Disadvantages include being bulky and heavy, which may be uncomfortable for some. Since a stock mouth protector can not be customised, it may either be too loose or too tight. Hence, talking may not be as easy while the athlete wears it.
Dentists generally do not recommend buying pre-manufactured mouth protectors. However, these are great alternatives at instances when you forget to bring your own gear in the game.
Boil and bite mouth protectors
This type of mouth protector can also be found in many stores that sell athletic gears and equipment. The huge difference is that the user can custom fit this dental appliance at home.
As the name implies, the user needs to put the mouth protector in boiling water for a maximum of 90 seconds. After cooling down to a comfortable level, the user needs to place it on the mouth and bite hard until it makes the perfect mould.
This customisation is possible because the internal layer of a boil and bite mouth protector is made of thermoplastic material, which softens when heated.
Pros: Less expensive than custom-fitted mouthguards. It also offers higher protection than stock mouthguards because it copies the shape of the user’s teeth and gums
Cons: The user may commit mistakes while customising the device at home. The size dictates or limits the coverage or protection it gives. This is also bulkier than custom-fitted mouthguards.
Custom-fitted mouth protectors
These are mouth guards made in a laboratory specifically for the user. When making this device, the maker copies the exact size and shape of the teeth and gums. Moreover, the design and thickness can be further customised depending on the type of sports the user plays.
Pros: The biggest advantage of a custom-fitted mouth protector is the level of protection it gives to the user. In addition, it is much more comfortable to use compared to the other types.
Cons: This is the most expensive among the three types of mouthguards. Since the device will be custom-made in a laboratory, it will not be available right away. The user usually needs to wait for one to two weeks.
Needless to say, this is the best type of sports mouthguard when it comes to giving maximum comfort and protection.
Other Uses of Mouth Guards
Some mouth guards are specifically designed to help people with the following disorders:
- Bruxism. This is a condition in which the person involuntary grinds or clenches the teeth. It can happen even when the person is sleeping.
- Excessive snoring. A mouth guard helps reduce excessive snoring by holding the tongue in its proper place or by pushing the lower jaw forward.
- Mild sleep apnea. This is a condition in which the breathing pattern of a sleeping person temporarily stops. A mouth device can help keep the airway open and improve the condition.
- TMJ disorder. A mouth guard can help with the treatment of the disorder on your temporomandibular joint if it is because of teeth grinding.
Taking Care of Your Mouth Guard
Bacteria dwell on your mouth guard, so it is important to keep it clean all the time.
- Rinse the device with cold water. Remember not to use hot water.
- Then, clean it with toothpaste or mild soap. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and rinse thoroughly.
- Store it in a proper container. Make sure that it dries before you close the storage.
- Do not place it in areas receiving direct sunlight.
- Replace it with a new one when it gets damaged or when you notice that it starts to fall off.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about mouthguards.
What are contact sports and why do athletes use mouthguards?
Contact sports have high risks of injury because players need to have bodily contact with each other. Because of this, athletes wear mouthguards to prevent teeth trauma and other severe dental injuries.
Examples of contact sports are the following:
- mixed martial arts
- football (possible impact from sports equipment)
- ice hockey
- basketball (limited contact)
Does it feel comfortable?
It is normal to feel discomfort when wearing a mouthguard. By choosing to use the best type, you can minimise the discomfort.
Stock mouth protectors are generally not comfortable since they do not match the teeth size and shape of the user. Boil and bite mouth guards are more comfortable when done correctly. Custom-fitted mouth protectors are the most comfortable to use among the three.
Where can I get custom made mouthguards?
Dentists and orthodontists are qualified to make custom-fitted mouth guards. Visit a reputable Australian dental clinic like Brite Dental to get quality mouth protectors.
How long does it take to make a custom-fitted mouthguard?
The whole process may take two weeks from start to finish.
On your first visit to the dentist, dental impressions will be taken. These impressions will be used to custom-fit the device in the laboratory. On your second visit, the dentist will ask you to try the device and see if further adjustments are needed.
How do dentists get the impressions of my teeth?
It depends on the type of technology and dental equipment available in the dentist’s clinic. Some use computers and digital scanners to get a 3D impression of the mouth, teeth, and gums.
The traditional way of taking dental impressions is by placing dental putty on both upper and lower jaw. After the putty hardens, the dentist will instruct the patient to bite thereby leaving impressions on the substance.
Can I wear a mouth guard for my lower teeth?
Normally, people wear mouthguards on the upper teeth. This is already enough to protect the teeth and gums during the game. However, you can also wear a mouth protector on your lower teeth.
I already wear fixed teeth braces. Do I sill need mouthguards?
Yes, but you need to wear a bigger and bulkier type. While playing, sudden hits or strong impacts can damage the brackets and wires of your braces. Worse, the lips and gums may suffer from sharp cuts.
A braces mouthguard from an orthodontist can protect both braces and teeth from the above scenarios. Expect it to be bigger because there should be enough room for the braces and possible teeth movement. If a person wears braces on both upper and lower jaws, the orthodontist may give protectors for each.
I wear temporary braces. What kind of mouthguard should I use?
During the game, remove your temporary braces. Replace them with a regular sports mouthguard.
What is the best thickness level for my mouthguard?
While it is true that thinner mouthguards are more comfortable, they may not be able to give the right amount of protection that your teeth need.
The best level of thickness depends on the type of sports you are playing. When talking to your dentist, describe how much physical contact you may be getting in the game.
How do I stop chewing on my mouthguard?
Chewing usually happens to people not using custom-fitted mouthguards. Since the device has an ill fit, the user becomes tempted to chew on it. To stop yourself from chewing on your mouthguards, make sure to wear one that fits your teeth perfectly.
If you can not seem to stop chewing, wear a chew-resistant sports mouthguard.
How long should I wear my mouthguard?
A sports mouthguard should be worn all throughout the game.
Other types of mouthguards being used as part of therapy should be worn according to the dentist’s instruction. Do not use it shorter than prescribed achieve the best results in the shortest possible time. Never use it for longer than necessary to avoid possible bite problems.
About Brite Dental
Brite Dental is a premium clinic that offers a wide range of dental services for both children and adults. It is conveniently located in central Panania.
We love imparting our knowledge on how to properly take care of a person’s teeth, mouth, and gums. We believe that with proper care early on, many dental disorders can be prevented. If you or your child needs a mouthguard for protection, kindly visit us for consultation.
Our clinic specialises in general and preventive dentistry. We also have a dedicated team of professionals to service those who need custom orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry. Learn more about our other dental services here.