Use of Mouth Guards to Ensure Good Dental Health

Use of Mouth Guards to Ensure Good Dental Health

It is widely known that boxers and wrestlers always wear mouth guards, as a way to protection against getting a knocked-out tooth or a chipped tooth. The use of mouth guards is however not restricted just to those playing sports. There are a range of issues that pose risk to your teeth such as teeth grinding and by simply wearing a guard you are able to protect your teeth from damage. Guards are removable dental appliances worn over the teeth to buffer any impact. They also act as a barrier between teeth and the checks, tongue and lips thereby reducing chances of soft tissue injuries.

Usually, mouthguards cover the upper teeth only. However, in some special cases, dentist may recommend that patients wear guards on their lower teeth as well such as in the case of those with a protruding jaw or those wearing orthodontic appliances.

Types of Mouth Guards

At DR.Jeff Levman in Mississauga, ON, we provide a range of mouth guards to suit your lifestyle and needs.

Stock Mouth Protectors: These are ready to wear guards that come preformed. They are available at most drug stores, department stores and sporting goods shops. You will find them in three sizes that include small, medium and large. Stock mouth protectors are inexpensive and accessible by many but have some downsides. Dentist discourage patients from using them since their fit cannot be adjusted and this makes them uncomfortable and ineffective in providing quality protection. They also tend to be bulky and this could affect how you talk and even breath while wearing them.

Boil and Bite Mouth Protectors: Just like stock guards, these are also available in most pharmacies and are relatively cheap. They are available in one size and you need to customize them to fit your teeth. Since they are made from a thermoplastic material, to get a custom fit you will place the protector in hot water to soften it and then place it at the front of your upper teeth and shape it around using your fingers and tongue pressure.

Custom-Fitted Mouth Protectors: These are usually made by your dentist and are specially designed to fit your teeth. An impression of your teeth is taken and then used to create an individual mouth guard for the unique structure of your teeth and mouth. Custom mouth guards tend to be expensive since more effort and time is involved in making them. Their fit is however much better than that of stock or boil and bite protectors. As a result, they are more comfortable and work better at protecting your teeth and mouth.

What Type of Mouth Protector Should You Wear?

An ideal mouth protector should fulfil a number of demands which include;

  • Allow you speak and breath without difficulty
  • Stay in place during action
  • Offer high comfort levels and a great fit
  • Be durable and easy to clean and care for
  • Remain resistant to odor and have no taste

The specific type of mouth guard you use however comes down to the intended function. If you are wearing a mouth guard to protect against impact from sports, a stock guard may be a good option if you need to occasionally wear one. However, if you engage in high-impact sports, boil and bite mouth guard will offer better protection as it has a better fit.

For patients suffering from bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching), wearing a mouth guard especially when asleep helps prevent contact between the upper and lower jaw and this further prevents damage due to the pressure of grinding or clenching. For such a case, custom fitted mouth guards are the best pick.

Another condition that may require you wear a mouth guard is sleep apnea. In this case a mouthguard is not protecting your teeth but it helps push the lower jaw and tongue forward to keep the airway open. Some mouth guards for sleep apnea come with a strap that goes around the head and chin to help readjust the lower jaw. A custom-fit mouth guard is usually used in this case as stock guards and bite and boil will not do anything to help.