Should You Use a Custom Mouth Guard? Restorative & General Dentist in Salem, OR Answers
Updated: Dec 1, 2022
Imagine losing a front tooth due to a sports injury, or painfully cracking a tooth due to habitual teeth grinding. The trauma of the injury would be distressing enough on its own, but simple enjoyments and daily routines like eating, speaking and smiling would also be affected. In many cases, dental injury is preventable with mouth guards!
Sports & Recreation: Teeth are extremely vulnerable to damage when they are not properly protected while playing contact sports – more than 5 million teeth are lost each year due to sports injuries! If you play basketball, football, hockey, or other contact sports, wearing a sports mouthguard is absolutely essential for protecting your teeth. Mouthguards also help protect your facial features by cushioning blows to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injury to your lips, tongue, face and jaw. We also recommend wearing a sports mouthguard for many non-contact sports and recreational activities, such as baseball, gymnastics, soccer, skateboarding, rollerblading and more.
Bruxism: Habitual teeth grinding, aka bruxism, will wear down teeth over time and greatly increase your risk of damaged teeth and gums. A properly fitting night mouthguard can greatly reduce these risks, and also help eliminate head and neck issues commonly associated with bruxism, such as chronic headaches and jaw pain. Sports mouthguards and bruxism mouthguards are made of different materials and designed to serve different purposes, so we do not recommend using a sports guard for teeth grinding, or a night guard for sports protection.
Sleep Apnea & Snoring: For mild cases of sleep apnea, a custom-made mouthguard can help keep your airways open while you sleep. Instead of simply covering your teeth (like sports guards and bruxism guards) a sleep apnea mouthguard is designed to push your lower jaw and tongue forward, keeping your airway open. Some types of sleep apnea mouth guards also include a strap that fits around the head and chin to adjust the lower jaw into the correct position. Some mouthguards can also help reduce snoring, and work similarly to mouthguards for sleep apnea by keeping your airway open while you sleep.
Types of Mouthguards
Stock Mouthguards are widely available and affordable, and can be found at most drug stores and sporting goods stores. They usually come in a range of sizes, and are meant to cover your upper teeth only. While stock mouthguards are inexpensive and easy to find, they are usually not very comfortable and can take some trial and error to find the correct size. It can be difficult to speak while wearing a stock mouthguard. They also do not provide a close, tight fit and therefore do not provide as good protection from injury or damage compared to one molded to your teeth.
Adjustable Over-the-Counter Mouthguards are typically designed to protect against nighttime bruxism or mild sleep apnea/snoring, and often include sliding pieces that rest between both upper and lower teeth while you sleep.
Boil and Bite Mouthguards are made of a thermoplastic material that you can customize at home to fit your mouth. Unlike stock mouthguards, boil and bite guards usually come in one size. Preparation involves using very hot water to soften the guard, shaping it directly onto your teeth and biting down, and setting it with cold water. For best results, follow the instructions included in the package. If custom fit mouthguards aren’t right for you, boil and bite mouthguards are often the next best choice.
Custom Fit Mouthguards are precisely and specifically designed for your mouth at a dentist’s office. Your dentist will take an impression of your mouth to craft a mouthguard that comfortably fits your teeth and mouth, and best suits your needs. Custom fit mouth protectors cost more than store-bought, but they are made from superior quality, highly durable materials, and provide the very best fit and protection for your mouth. Unlike store-bought options, custom made mouthguards are crafted to fit as comfortably and effectively as possible. Enhanced comfort means that you or your child will be more likely to use a mouthguard regularly; precise fit means they offer the very best protection for your teeth and mouth; and quality materials mean they are more durable and will last longer than store bought mouth guards.
Not sure which type of mouth guard is best for you? Don’t hesitate to contact us, we are always happy to help!
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