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Mouth Guard: Protect Your Teeth from Serious Damage

16 May 2024

Mouth guards are oral appliances that cover the teeth. Dentists suggest wearing them for many reasons and there are different types. Children and adults may get benefitted from mouth guards.

Most mouth guards fit over the upper teeth and your dentist may suggest a mouth guard for your lower teeth in some cases.

What does a mouth guard do?

Dentists suggest wearing mouth guards due to various reasons. You might require one if you:

  • Clench or grind teeth (bruxism)
  • Suffer from obstructive sleep apnea
  • Snoring
  • Play contact sports such as basketball, boxing, football, hockey or soccer
  • Have TMJ disorder
  • Take part in activities with high fall risk such as biking, gymnastics or ice skating.

Are there different types of mouth guards?

You will find three kinds of mouth guards and we classify them according to their purpose:

  1. Mouth guards for sports: These will protect your teeth from sports-related injuries. If you play sports such as – basketball, boxing, football, hockey, soccer or wrestling, mouth guards may greatly lessen the risk for knocked out and chipped teeth.
  2. Mouth guards for teeth grinding: These appliances protect your teeth from the effects of clenching and grinding. They may lessen the effects of TMJ disorders. You may wear this kind of mouth guard any time, day or night. As most people clench or grind teeth during sleep, it is very common to wear them during the night.
  3. Sleep apnea and snoring mouth guards: People who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea or extreme snoring might benefit from wearing a custom mouth guard. This kind of appliance moves and repositions the jaw to open your airway at the time of sleep.

Besides, mouth guards may be custom-made or store-bought:

  • Store-bought: There are two kinds of store-bought mouth guards. These are – stock and boil-and-bite. While store-bought guards are inexpensive, they are not very effective as custom-made mouth guards that provide protection against sports-related injuries or teeth grinding. They are not an appropriate choice for treating sleep apnea.
  • Custom-made: The dentist creates this type of mouth guard to fit your exact dental anatomy. As they have been designed to fit your teeth, they seem to be extremely comfortable than store-bought mouth guards. Custom-made mouth guards offer better protection against sports-related trauma and bruxism. They are the first line of defense in treating sleep apnea. You may wear them with or without a CPAP machine.

What happens when you need a custom mouth guard?

If you require a custom mouth guard, the dentist takes dental impressions. After this, they will send your impressions to the dental laboratory where a technician will fabricate mouth guard for fitting the anatomy of your teeth. This procedure may take nearly two weeks in some cases.

How often do you need to wear a mouth guard?

It will depend on why you need a mouth guard. If you require one to protect your teeth during contact sports, then you should wear it during all kinds of games. But when you need a mouth guard for treating teeth grinding, sleep apnea or snoring, then you will possibly wear it every night while sleeping. Speak with the healthcare provider how often you should wear your mouth guard and keep yourself protected.

What are the benefits of wearing a mouth guard?

Wearing a mouth guard at the time of athletic activities and contact sports may help you to prevent the problem of:

  • Knocked-out teeth.
  • Chipped teeth.
  • Damage to the tooth pulp.
  • Soft-tissue injury to your cheeks, gums and lips

Wearing a mouth guard while sleeping may lessen the risk for:

  • Wear and tear from teeth clenching or grinding.
  • Facial pain, headache, jaw pain and other TMJ disorder symptoms
  • Sleep apnea and other complications such as high blood pressure and tiredness.

Are there any side effects of wearing a mouth guard?

It may require some time to get used to wearing a mouth guard. When you buy one that does not fit in the right way, it can be the reason for soreness in your hums, jaw or teeth.

Custom-made mouth guards are very comfortable when compared to store-bought ones. Despite the type of mouth guard you are having, the dentist will be checking it and then making necessary adjustments accordingly.

How long should mouth guards last?

Based on how often you wear an appliance, custom-made mouth guard can last for many years with proper care and maintenance. But some people think they will have to replace mouth guards often than it is needed. Take the mouth guard with you for dental checkups so that the dentist can inspect it for any signs of wear or cracks.

Store-bought mouth guards are not a durable choice. You may have to replace them for a few times in a year. Both children and teenagers may change mouth guards often with the growth of their mouth and teeth.

How do you take care of mouth guards?

Mouth guards pick up bacteria from the mouth and you should clean teeth properly before wearing a mouth guard. Below are some tips on how to clean your mouth guard:

  • Avoid exposing mouth guard to severe heat such as hot water or direct sunlight. Heat may cause it to warp and alter the shape.
  • Rinse mouth guard in cool water and take a brush and soapy water to clean it after using it. Allow it to dry in the air.
  • Keep your mouth guard in a sturdy plastic case when you do not use it or do other activities.
  • Store mouth guard away from the reach of dogs and other pets.

When should you call a healthcare provider?

If you play contact sports, ask the dentist for any recommendations for mouth guard. You should reach out to the healthcare provider in case you have:

  • TMJ disorder symptoms include jaw pain, facial pain or severe headache.
  • Wear and tear from teeth grinding.
  • Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, such as headaches, daytime fatigue, gasping for air or irritability during sleep.

Thus, mouth guards protect your teeth from injury when playing sports or performing other activities. You may purchase mouth guards or your dentist in London will give a custom-fitted mouth guard. He may suggest wearing it when you sleep to prevent grinding teeth or improve symptoms of sleep apnea.