A variety of people uses dental mouthguards for many different reasons. Whether you are an athlete involved in impact sports or wake up in the morning with an aching jaw, there are options out there that might be right for you. It is essential to understand the types of mouthguards and their applications before you use one to make sure that you get the right equipment for the job.
There are three basic types of mouthguards. While all have the same basic idea – to protect your teeth – there are some differences between them that you should understand.
Stock Mouth Protectors – These pieces of equipment come from the store ready to wear. They come in different sizes to try to get the closest to your mouth shape for a comfortable fit. However, there isn’t much adjustment that can be done with these mouthguards and their inexpensive price ends up costing you in comfort, ability to breathe properly and make speaking difficult. These protectors can be found in most sporting goods stores but are not recommended by dentists.
Boil and Bite Mouth Protectors – These protectors are slightly more customizable than the stock guards. They are found in most sporting goods stores and come in a few different sizes. They are made from a thermoplastic material that allows them to be boiled and then the individual bites down on them to give them their shape. They fit more tightly to the teeth than the stock mouthguards, but many people still find that their fit is not ideal.
Custom Fitted Mouth Protectors – These devices are the best fitting of all three types. They are individually designed and constructed for each patient. These mouthguards are created by making an impression of your teeth and then creating the mouthguard based on your exact bite and tooth pattern. Due to the increased personalization, these mouthguards are typically the most expensive of all three, but also offer the most comfortable fit and the best protection.
Mouthguards are typically only designed to fit on the top teeth. Usually, protection on the top teeth also keeps you from being able to grind or harm your lower teeth. In some situations, your dentist may also design a mouthguard for your lower teeth. These are often used for patients who have braces or other dental appliances and require additional protection. You should work closely with your dentist to identify which option is best for you.
When you receive your mouthguard(s), you should be sure to check their fit. A mouthguard should be placed easily, be comfortable to wear, and shouldn’t restrict your breathing or speech. In addition, mouthguards should be tear resistant, easy to clean and durable.
Mouthguards are not appropriate for every person, but dentists see too many patients who should be using mouthguards but are not. It is essential to understand when you should consider using a mouthguard. Children or adults who are involved in sports like football, hockey, boxing, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, field hockey, skiing, gymnastics, skateboarding or other sports should seriously consider mouthguards.
In addition to athletes, patients who grind their teeth at night should consider a mouthguard, bite plate, or bite splint to protect their teeth from wear and degradation. Finally, patients who have dental devices like braces and are experiencing rubbing or rawness on their lips or gums may consider mouthguards as an option.
Many patients don’t understand if or when they should use a mouthguard. If you are considering the possibility, schedule an appointment with your dentist today to talk about your options. Stopping dental damage can be easy and pain-free so check with your dentist at your next appointment.