Dental Mouth Guards
What is a Mouth Guard?
A mouth guard, also known as an occlusal guard, is a removable mouth protector used to shield the teeth and gums while a patient sleeps or takes part in contact sports to prevent deterioration or injury to the teeth. Mouth guards are custom fit to the wearers mouth, made of FDA approved materials, cover all of the teeth, and absorb impact to the mouth.
Types of Mouth Guards
There are three main types of mouthguards. Which you will need depends on your intended use of the mouth guard and budget.
Custom Mouth Guard
A custom-made mouth guard is formed by a dentist to perfectly fit your teeth. This is the ideal form of mouth guard and should be used if you’re choosing a mouth guard for oral health purposes such as protecting the teeth against grinding or TMJ. These mouth guards are more costly than the other two options, but their perfect fit also makes them the most comfortable.
Stock Mouth Guard
A stock guard is pre-made and comes in a variety of sizes to fit your mouth. Since this guard is not custom to your teeth, it can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time like during sleep. This is a common option for those who wear their guards for a short time like during a sporting match. These are typically the most affordable guards.
Boil and Bite Mouth Guard
Another cost-effective option, boil and bite mouth guards allow you to custom fit the guard at home. The guard is boiled until soft, then bitten into to create a mold of the teeth. These are typically more comfortable than stock guards, but don’t fit quite as well as custom guards.
Mouth Guard Uses
1. Contact Sports
Contact sports often result in dental injury. Mouth guards protect the teeth from injury and absorb shock caused by impact. These are typically used in sports such as wrestling, football, and hockey.
2. Grinding Teeth
Grinding your teeth at night can cause many issues from uneven length of teeth to loss of enamel from excess pressure. A mouth guard not only protects your teeth, but often stops the habit of grinding all together.
3. Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder or TMJ is a disorder where excess inflammation occurs in the muscles surrounding the jaw. This often results in clenching or grinding of teeth, which a mouth guard can help with.
4. Sleep Apnea
People with sleep apnea often wake up during the night due to difficulty breathing. A mouth guard can help by keeping the jaw and tongue in place, thus opening their airways.
Keeping the airways open can also reduce snoring throughout the night. Snoring is caused by soft tissue vibrating in one’s upper airway, so chronic snorers often opt for mouth guards to help with this issue.
If you’re in Stafford, VA and think you may need a mouth guard, consult your dentist to see if it is the right treatment option for you.