Dental Mouth Guards
Because accidents can happen during any physical activity, the use of dental mouth guards limits the risk of mouth-related injuries to the lips, tongue, and soft tissues of the mouth. They can also help to avoid a chipped or broken tooth, nerve damage to a tooth or even tooth loss.
Types of Mouth Guards
Mouth guards are coverings worn over teeth used to protect teeth from injury from teeth grinding and during sports activities. There are three different types of mouth guards: stock mouth guards, boil and bite mouth guards and custom fitted mouth guards.
Stock Mouth Guards
These mouth guards are pre-formed and come ready to wear. Relatively inexpensive, they can be purchased at most sporting good and department stores. Because they are prefabricated, they cannot be adjusted. They are also known to be bulky, tend to make breathing and talking difficult and they provide little or no protection against injury. As such, the stock mouth guard is not usually recommended for use by dental providers.
Boil and Bite Mouth Guards
Boil and bite dental mouth guards offer a better fit than stock mouth guards. They can also be purchased at many sporting good stores. This type of mouth guards is made from thermoplastic material that when placed in hot water, softens and is then inserted into the mouth. It usually adapts to the shape of your mouth by using finger and tongue pressure. If directions are not followed carefully, the result may be a poor fitting dental mouth guard.
Custom-Fitted Dental Mouth Guards
Custom fitted mouth guards are individually designed and made in a dental office or a dental laboratory. To design a custom fitted mouth guard, an impression is made of your teeth and a then the mouth guard is then molded over the model using a special material. Because of the use of special material and the time involved, custom-made dental mouth guards are more expensive than the Stockton and Boil and Bite types, yet it provides the best fit and comfort protection.
Making a Kid's Mouth Guard
Generally, mouth guards are used to cover the maxillary (upper) teeth only, but in some instances, individuals wear them on the lower teeth as well. Your dentist will suggest the best mouth guard for your particular need. An effective mouth guard should be comfortable, resist tears, be durable and easy to clean, and should not restrict breathing or speech. If an individual grinds their teeth at night, a mouth guard-type of dental appliance called a nocturnal bite plate or bite splint, may be created to prevent tooth damage.
Mouth guards should be used by anyone who plays contact sports such as football, soccer, ice hockey, basketball, etc. Even those individuals who participate in non contact sports (e.g., cheerleading, gymnastics) and any recreational activity that poses a risk of injury to the mouth would benefit from wearing a mouth guard.
Mouth Guards and Braces
A mouth guard is particularly important for those who wear braces or have fixed bridge work, particularly because an injury to the face could damage orthodontic brackets or the fixed appliances. A dental mouth guard also provides a barrier between the braces and the cheek or lips, limiting the risk of any soft tissue injuries. Your dentist can determine the best type of mouth guard protection for your circumstance.
Caring for Mouth Guards
- 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 soak the mouth guard in cool, soapy water, then rinse thoroughly.
- Place the mouth guard in a firm, perforated container when it is not in use or you need to transport it. This type of storage will allow for air circulation and help prevent damage to the appliance.
- Do not expose the mouth guard to high temperatures (e.g, hot water, hot surfaces, or direct sunlight). Doing so may distort its shape.
- Check the mouth guard for general wear. If you notice any holes or tearing or if it becomes loose and causes discomfort, it needs to be replaced.
- Bring the mouth guard to each regularly scheduled dental visit so that the appliance is also examined by your dental provider.
You should use mouth guards during any activity that could result in injury to the face or mouth. Properly fitted dental mouth guards help prevent broken teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw. It stays in place while you are wearing it, and does not interfere with speaking and breathing. Talk to your dentist about having a custom dental mouth guard made specifically for you. Get one of the best protections for your smile.