Mouth Guards

Mouth guards are also known as "sports guards" or "athletic mouth protectors." They are worn over your teeth to protect them against injury during sporting activities. They can also be used to prevent teeth clenching or grinding at night.
 
Who should wear them?
Anyone who plays contact sports (such as football, boxing, hockey) should wear a mouth guard. Even people who participate in noncontact sports (gymnastics, weight lifting) or recreational activities (skateboarding, mountain biking) that might lead to an injury will benefit from mouth guards.

People who grind or clench their teeth at night will also find mouth guards helpful. Daily heavy grinding or clenching can wear down your teeth and cause soreness, headaches and TMJ symptoms.
 
How mouth guards protect you
Though the primary function of mouth guards is to protect your teeth, they also help to lessen the amount of force that can be transmitted from an impact point (such as your jaw) to your brain. As a result, mouth guards help to reduce the chances of a brain injury during sporting activities.

Mouth guards also help to protect you against:
  • Concussions
  • Lip injuries
  • Gum and soft tissue damage
  • Jawbone fractures
  • Tongue injuries
  • Chipped or fractured teeth
  • Nerve damage to teeth
  • Tooth loss
 
Types of mouth guards
Mouth guards generally fall into 3 main types:

Stock mouth protectors
Stock mouth protectors come ready to wear and can be picked up at most sporting good stores. They are inexpensive and easy to fit. However, they are bulky, uncomfortable and make breathing more difficult. They also provide the least protection, which is why denturists don't recommend them.

Boil and bite mouth protectors
Boil and bite mouth protectors can also be found at sporting good stores. They are made from thermoplastic and generally fit better than stock mouth protectors. These mouth guards must be immersed in hot water to make it soft, then worn and pressed on your teeth to create a mold. Boil and bite mouth protectors are pricier than stock mouth guards, but are more comfortable to wear, allow for easier breathing and offer more protection.

Custom-fitted mouth protectors
These mouth guards are custom designed and constructed in a dental laboratory. Your denturist will first make impressions of your teeth and use this mold to make your mouth guard. Since custom-fitted mouth guards have better material and require more preparation, they are more expensive than the other mouth guard types. However, they offer the most comfort and protection for your mouth.
 
Choosing a mouth guard
 
Having a mouth guard is always better than not having one. The most important thing when choosing a mouth guard is finding one that fits you properly. If the mouth guard is bulky or makes it difficult to breathe or speak, it’s not a good fit.

Questions to ask yourself when choosing a mouth guard include:
  • What’s your main purpose for using the mouth guard?
  • What sports do you participate in?
  • How often do you participate in them?
  • How much money can you spend?
 
Caring for your mouth guard
Properly caring for your mouth guard ensures it fit well and lasts for a long time. Other things to keep in mind when caring for your mouth guard include:
  • Store your mouth guard in a plastic container to protect it against excessive heat or cold
  • Rinse your mouth guard in cool to luke-warm water to keep it clean. Avoid hot water to prevent distortion.
  • Before wearing it, you can rinse your mouth guard with mouthwash to freshen it.
  • Inspect the mouth guard from time to time for wear and tear. If you find any damage or if it becomes loose, replace it. Generally, mouth guards should be replaced every 2 to 3 years.
  • Bring your mouth guard to your next dental visit for an inspection
Regardless of your age or sports you play, mouth guards are essential to keeping your mouth protected and healthy. You only get one set of teeth so it's your job to protect them. Contact your denturist today for a mouth guard fitting.