Mouth guards are coverings worn over teeth, and often used to protect teeth from injury from teeth grinding and during sports.
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
Who Needs a Mouth Guard?
Mouth guards should be used by
Adults and children who grind their teeth at night should have a nocturnal bite plate or bite splint made to prevent tooth damage.
Why Use a Mouth Guard When Playing Sports?
Because accidents can happen during any physical activity, the advantage of using a mouth guard is that it can help limit the risk of mouth-related injuries to your lips, tongue, and soft tissues of your mouth. Mouth guards also help you avoid chipped or broken teeth, nerve damage to a tooth or even tooth loss.
Can I Wear a Mouth Guard if I Wear Braces?
Yes. Since an injury to the face could damage orthodontic brackets or other fixed appliances, a properly fitted mouth guard may be particularly important for people who wear braces or have fixed bridge work. Your dentist or orthodontist can determine the mouth guard that will provide the best protection for your unique mouth work. An important reminder: do not wear any retainers or other removable appliance during any contact sports or during any recreational activities that put your mouth at risk for injury.
How Do I Care for My Mouth Guard?
To care for your mouth guard:
- Rinse your mouth guard with cold water or with a mouth rinse before and after each use and/or clean it with toothpaste and a toothbrush.
- Occasionally clean the mouthguard in cool, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly.
- Place the mouth guard in a firm, perforated container to store or transport it. This permits air circulation and helps to prevent damage.
- Protect the mouth guard from high
temperatures -- suchas hot water, hot surfaces, or direct sunlight -- tominimize distorting its shape.
- Occasionally check the mouth guard for general wear. If you find holes or tears in it or if it becomes loose or causes discomfort, replace it.
- Bring the mouth guard to each regularly scheduled dental visit to have your dentist exam it.
Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland
Clinic Department of Dentistry.
Reviewed by Harold Burstein, PhD, MD, on May 1, 2005
Edited by Charlotte E. Grayson Mathis, MD, on May 1, 2005
Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic 2000-2005
- Attachment Theory: What It Is, Stages & the Different Attachment Styles
- Gentle Parenting: What It Is, Techniques & Discipline
- U.S. Nursing Homes Fail to Report Many Serious Falls, Bedsores: Study
- The Younger You Get Diabetes, the Higher Your Risk for Dementia Later
- FDA Grants Full Approval to Paxlovid to Treat COVID-19
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top Mouth Guards Related Articles
Caring for Teeth With Braces or RetainersPeople who have braces or retainers must take special care when cleaning their teeth. They must floss and brush regularly and avoid eating hard and chewy foods. It's important to wear a mouth guard when playing sports to avoid dental injuries.
Cocaine and Crack AddictionCocaine is an addictive stimulant that is smoked, snorted, and injected. Crack is cocaine that comes in a rock crystal that is heated to form vapors, which are then smoked. Cocaine has various effects on the body, including dilating pupils, constricting blood vessels, increasing body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Braces (Dental)Find out more about how orthodontic braces and retainers can provide proper alignment to crooked teeth. Get information about the cost of braces, the different types of braces, and the procedure for fitting a patient with braces.
What Are Common Causes of Dental Injuries?Dental injuries range from a chipped or fractured tooth to a knocked-out tooth. Treatment depends upon the severity of the dental injury. Dental injuries may be prevented by aligning protruding front teeth with braces and using face masks and mouthguards while playing sports.
fluorideFluoride, or sodium fluoride, is an inorganic chemical compound used to prevent dental caries and maintain dental health. Common side effects of fluoride include skin rash, hypersensitivity reaction, nausea, vomiting, and temporary dental discoloration (with products containing stannous fluoride). Take fluoride supplementation exactly as prescribed. Do not take fluoride supplements if there is adequate intake from fluorinated drinking water.
Oral Health Problems in ChildrenIn addition to dental caries, common oral health problems in children include thumb sucking, tooth sensitivity, and gum disease. Check out the center below for more medical references on oral health, including multimedia (slideshows, images, and quizzes), related disease conditions, treatment and diagnosis, medications, and prevention or wellness.
Root CanalA root canal is a dental procedure that's used to save an infected tooth. Treatment involves removing the tooth's nerve and pulp and then cleaning and sealing the tooth. Symptoms and signs that indicate a root canal is needed include toothache, discoloration, swelling, tenderness, prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold, and a persistent pimple on the gums. Typically, a root canal is no more painful than having a filling placed.
Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding. Bruxism may be caused by stress or anxiety and often happens during sleep. Symptoms and signs include jaw pain, headache, and abnormalities in your teeth. Treatment may involve practicing stress-management techniques, cutting back on caffeine and alcohol, avoiding gum chewing, training oneself not to grind the teeth, and wearing a mouth guard.
Teeth PictureThe teeth are the hardest substances in the human body. See a picture of the Teeth and learn more about the health topic.