Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body, but it is not resilient enough to withstand very traumatic forces, including the forces of chronic grinding or clenching, or the blunt force of a blow to the mouth.
Wearing a mouth guard while sleeping or playing contact or collision sports is the most reliable way to protect your teeth from these threats. However, not all mouth guards are created equal. Dr. McDonald recommends custom-fitted mouth guards, as they offer the best protection, fit and comfort.
Sports Mouth Guards
Protective mouth guards are an essential piece of equipment if you play contact or collision sports. Even if you or your children participate in other types of sports and activities, like skateboarding and mountain biking, you can see significant benefits from wearing mouth guards.
Mouth guards protect your teeth against damage from a blow to the mouth by a ball, piece of equipment or another player. They also protect your teeth from an injury due to tripping or falling.
Mouth guards prevent your teeth from getting knocked out, fractured or displaced. Although mouth guards usually cover only the upper teeth, they offer protection to the soft tissues of your mouth by preventing you from inadvertently biting your lip, tongue or insides of your cheeks.
Additionally, mouth guards help prevent injuries to the jaw. And, they can prevent damage to orthodontic brackets or fixed dental appliances.
Perks of Custom Sports Mouth Guards
The stock or boil-and-bite mouth guards you see in sporting goods or big box stores are inexpensive, but the benefits end there. Stock guards offer the poorest fit and comfort; a poorly fitting mouth guard provides little to no protection, and if it is uncomfortable, the person wearing it is less likely to use it regularly. Stock guards are often bulky and can restrict breathing and talking.
Boil-and-bite mouth guards offer a slightly better fit but do not come anywhere near the comfort and protection of a custom mouth guard.
Custom mouth guards are individually designed and made to fit over the contours of the athlete’s teeth and gums, so the appliance won’t shift out of place. Custom mouth guards are made from lightweight materials so they do not restrict breathing or talking. Custom mouth guards can even be made to fit over braces.
Mouth Guards for Tooth Grinding (Bruxism)
Teeth grinding (bruxism) is a tricky issue. Constant grinding or clenching can lead to a variety of dental problems, including tooth damage, tooth pain, sore gums and jaw pain. But many people are not aware they grind or clench because they do it while asleep.
You may be made aware that you grind or clench while sleeping if your significant other points it out to you, or Dr. McDonald notices signs of the habit (e.g., worn, flat teeth) during an exam. Wearing a protective mouth guard at night can protect your teeth from the forces of grinding or clenching.
Perks of Custom Mouth Guards for Grinding
Like custom sports mouth guards, custom mouth guards for grinding are individually made for the size and contours of your teeth and mouth. This provides a better fit and greater comfort. Custom-fitted night guards are less likely to interfere with breathing or accidentally become dislodged while you are sleeping.
Learn More About Protective Mouth Guards
For more information about protecting your teeth or your child’s teeth with a custom mouth guard, please contact McDonald Family Dentistry by calling or sending us an email.