Mouthguards are dental devices used to protect or cover the teeth. It protects the teeth and protects the gums, tongue, and cheeks from any trauma caused by teeth grinding or sports injuries. In general dentistry, mouthguards are usually recommended by healthcare providers to their patients (including adults and children). Mouthguards are generally recommended to people who:
- Grinds teeth (also known as bruxism)
- Play a contact sport such as football, basketball, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, or any other sport that increases the risk of hitting on the face
- Play non contact sports or activities with a high risk of falling like biking, gymnastics, ice skating, etc.
There are several benefits of wearing mouthguards. Firstly, they cost less as compared to repairing or replacing missing teeth. Wearing a mouthguard at night helps to avoid teeth grinding. Besides, a mouth protector helps avoid chipped or lost teeth, nerve damage to a tooth, soft-tissue damage to lips, gums, tongue, and inside cheeks during athletic activities.
Different Types of Mouthguards
Depending on the user’s requirements, mouthguards can be categorized as:
Stock Mouthguards: Stock mouthguards are one-size-fits-all types of mouthguards that come ready to wear. Easily available at various sporting goods stores and department stores, stock mouth protectors are quite inexpensive compared to other mouthguards. Since they come in ready-to-wear condition, they usually don’t fit well. Besides, they are bulky as well. Their poor fit and bulkiness can make breathing and talking difficult. They provide very little or no protection. Hence, dentists do not recommend their usage.
Boil and Bite Mouthguards: As compared to stock mouthguards, boil and bite mouth guards offer better fit and protection to the users. These kinds of mouthguards are also available easily at various sporting goods stores. These types of mouth protectors are generally made up of thermoplastic material. Before using these protectors, users are required to place them in hot water to soften them. After they become soft, they can be placed easily inside the mouth and fit around the molars and front teeth with the help of finger and tongue pressure. When the user feels that the mouthguard is now in the right position, they need to bite down for 20 seconds. After that, they need to remove the device and run it under cold water to maintain its shape. One can repeat these steps to adjust the fit of their mouthguard.
Custom-fitted mouthguards: Custom-fitted mouthguards or protectors are individually designed and made in a professional laboratory. Based on the instructions provided by the dentist, mouthguards are customized to provide the best fit and protection. Based on the user’s requirements, like protection from trauma during a sports activity or for use at night to prevent grinding the teeth, custom-fitted mouth protectors can be made to meet the precise requirements of the users. An impression of the teeth is taken to prepare these protectors, and then a mouthguard is molded over the model using a special material. Since it is made with extra care using special material, it costs a little high compared to other mouthguards. Still, spending money on a custom-fitted mouthguard is worth it because it offers proper protection as well as comfort.
Others: Various other adjustable over-the-counter mouthguards are also available in the market, mostly used as night guards. Sliding pieces are one such mouth protector that is generally placed between the teeth while sleeping. These help to prevent teeth grinding issues.
Mouthguards are generally used to cover the upper teeth only. However, in some cases, the dentist can recommend a mouth protector for lower teeth, especially when a person wears braces or has a fixed dental appliance on their lower jaw. As far as the durability of a mouthguard is concerned, with proper care and handling, it can last for several years. The life of a mouthguard also depends upon how frequently it is used and the volume of wear and tear it takes. Among all the above-mentioned mouth protectors, custom-fitted mouthguards usually last for a longer period.
To conclude, choosing the right mouthguards based on the key purpose can help users get enough protection for their teeth and gums. It is advisable to take the suggestion of your dentist before using any kind of mouth protector. A dentist can suggest the best one for your requirement. Moreover, before choosing a mouthguard, make sure that it is comfortable, durable, easy to clean, and most importantly, doesn’t restrict your breathing and speech. TruCare Dentistry offers comprehensive dental care for all types of oral treatment. Schedule an appointment for consultation here.