The Basics of Mouthguards
Imagine your smile with one or two of your front teeth missing. Not a pretty picture, is it? That’s why we recommend mouthguards to our patients who play sports, especially for those who have veneers, bridge work, or other restorative or cosmetic dentistry work.
Also, mouthguards aren’t just for athletes. One of the most common times to wear a mouthguard is during sleep. You may not realize it, but you could be grinding down your own teeth at night, which can lead to fractures, decay, gum recession, and even tooth loss.
Let’s take a closer look at mouthguard uses.
Mouthguards for Athletes
Did you know that athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer damage to their teeth if they’re not wearing a mouthguard? With those kinds of odds, a mouthguard should be part of your standard athletic equipment.
Mouthguards are recommended for most athletes, for both contact and non-contact activities. Impact with another player or with a hard surface can cause serious damage to your mouth and teeth. Chipped or broken teeth, nerve damage to a tooth, and even tooth loss are common sports-related injuries.
Sports that pose a risk for mouth injuries include basketball, softball, football, wrestling, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, in-line skating, and martial arts. If you compete in any of these sports, or even if you play recreationally on weekends, you should wear a mouthguard to help protect your teeth and jaw from injury.
Mouthguards for Braces
If you’re receiving orthodontic treatment, it’s very important to protect your teeth and mouth during sports activities. Made of durable plastic, a custom-made mouthguard from our office will be designed to comfortably fit over your braces and will protect the delicate tissues inside your mouth. You can continue playing sports to your fullest ability, knowing that your teeth are safe.
Nightguards for TMD
A custom-made nightguard is often prescribed to patients who suffer from temporomandibular disorder (TMD). Wearing a nightguard puts your jaw in better alignment and can relieve discomfort while you sleep. Other solutions for TMD are to adjust your existing restorations, such as such as porcelain crowns, fillings, inlays, or onlays, which may have worn down over time and no longer fit correctly.
Nightguards can also help prevent grinding and clenching, known medically as “bruxism.” When you clench or grind your teeth at night, that constant tooth-to-tooth pressure can lead to enamel erosion, cavities, fractures, and even tooth loss. Plus, worn-down teeth can make you look older.
Because most people grind or clench their teeth at night, you might not know you are doing this. If you suffer from jaw pain, earaches, dull headaches, or a popping or clicking sound when you open and close your mouth, we recommend that you schedule an appointment to see Dr. Jay Ajmo here at our office. He can assess your jaw and teeth for signs of bruxism.
Types of Mouthguards
Three types of mouthguards are available.
- Stock: Available at most sporting goods stores, these inexpensive guards are pre-formed and ready to wear. However, they usually don’t fit very well and can make breathing and talking difficult. Dentists do not recommend their use.
- Boil and bite: Available at many sporting goods stores, these guards may offer a better fit and are less bulky than stock guards. Typically, they are softened in boiling water and then placed into your mouth to form around your teeth and gums. They may be a decent option for children who are still losing their “baby teeth” and have a frequently changing bite.
- Custom-fitted: These guards are individually made by your dentist to specifically fit your mouth. Because they are customized, they offer the best fit, comfort, and protection. To design your mouthguard, we will make an impression of your teeth and use that to mold a custom guard from special dental material.
Due to the limited protection offered by stock or “boil and bite” guards, most dentists don’t recommend those products. Sports and bruxism can both exert significant amounts of pressure on your teeth. The best mouthguard is one that has been custom made for your mouth by an experienced dentist.
Learn More about Mouthguards
We believe all of our patients deserve to be active and pain-free. If you play sports or suffer from frequent jaw pain, contact our Palm Beach Gardens office today for a consultation.
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