Dental Health Mouth Guards
Mouth guards are coverings worn over teeth, and often used to protect teeth
from injury from teeth grinding and
There are three types of mouth guards:
Stock mouth protectors are preformed and come ready to wear. They are
inexpensive and can be bought at most sporting good stores and department
stores. However, little can be done to adjust their fit, they are bulky and
make breathing and talking difficult and they provide little or no protection.
Dentists do not recommend their use.
Boil and bite mouth protectors also can be bought at many sporting
goods stores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. The
"boil and bite" mouth guard is made from thermoplastic material. It is
placed in hot water to soften, then placed in the mouth and shaped around the
teeth using finger and tongue pressure.
Custom-fitted mouth protectors are individually designed and made in
a dental office or a professional laboratory based on your dentist's
instructions. First, your dentist will make an impression of your teeth and a
mouth guard is then molded over the model using a special material. Due to the
use of the special material and because of the extra time and work involved,
this custom-made mouth guard is more expensive than the other types, but it
provides the most comfort and best fit and protection.
Generally, mouth guards cover your upper teeth only, but in some instances
(such as if you wear braces or another fixed dental appliance on your lower
jaw), your dentist will make a mouth guard for the lower teeth as well. Your
dentist can suggest the best mouth guard for you. An effective mouth guard
should be comfortable, resist tears, be durable and easy to clean, and should
not restrict your breathing or speech.
If you grind your teeth at night, a special mouth guard-type of dental
appliance -- called a nocturnal bite plate or bite splint -- may be created to
prevent tooth damage.
Who Needs a Mouth Guard?
Mouth guards should be used by anyone -- both children and adults -- who play
contact sports such as football, boxing, soccer, ice hockey, basketball,
lacrosse, and field hockey. However, even those participating in noncontact
sports (for example, gymnastics) and any recreational activity (for example,
skateboarding, mountain biking) that might pose a risk of injury to the mouth
would benefit from wearing a protective mouth guard.
Adults and children who grind their teeth at night should have a nocturnal
bite plate or bite splint made to prevent tooth damage.
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