mouth guardsWhy Use Mouth Guards?

There are two main reasons to wear a mouth guard as a protective cover over your teeth. Teeth grinding or bruxism is the number one reason to get a mouth guard. Teeth grinding usually happens at night and you may not be aware you’re doing this. A loved one may notice that you grind your teeth. Or your dentist can spot it when doing a regular checkup. Teeth grinding can be caused by stress or for other reasons. If teeth grinding goes untreated, it can cause loosening or even loss of teeth as well as pain in the jaw area, and can even cause TMD/TMJ or hearing loss.

The other reason for the use of mouth guards is to wear a sports mouth guard during any type of contact sport or even during activities that could lead to injury such as skateboarding or skiing. Injuries can be prevented with use of a good sports mouth guard. You don’t want to chip a tooth or even risk nerve damage when you’re out having a good time, so consider getting a good sports mouth guard.

There Are Three Types of Mouth Guards

1. Stock mouth protectors are preformed and come ready to wear. Yes, they are inexpensive and can be bought at most sporting good stores and department stores but they aren’t very good. You can’t adjust their fit and they are bulky. They can make breathing and talking difficult, and they provide very little if any protection. We dentists do not recommend their use.

2. Boil and bite mouth protectors which are made of a thermoplastic material also can be bought at many sporting goods stores. You put this type of mouth guard into hot water to soften it, then you shape it with pressure from your tongue and your fingers. It offers a slightly better fit than stock mouth guards offer. 

3. Custom-fitted mouth protectors are individually designed and are made in a dental office or a professional laboratory based on your dentist’s instructions. If you want the best fit and the most protection, custom-fitted mouth guards are best. Your dentist will make an impression of your teeth and then the mouth guard is molded over the model using a special material. Due to the special material used and because of the extra time and work involved, custom-made mouth guards are more expensive than the other types.

Usually mouth guards cover your upper teeth only, but in some instances, for example, if you wear braces or another kind of fixed dental appliance, your dentist may make a mouth guard for your lower teeth as well. Learn more about mouth guards here.