Protect Your Wellness by Protecting Your Teeth
Mouthguards: how often do you think of them?
As an athlete – or if you’re parenting one – it should be every time you get ready for that chosen activity! Mouthguards, also known as athletic guards, do a lot more than protect your teeth; they keep you smiling by providing safety to your entire mouth. Another type of mouthguard is a nightguard or bruxism appliance that can be used to treat teeth clenching and grinding.
What’s a Mouthguard?
Mouthguards are protective devices made from different types of artificial materials such as laminate or plastic that are worn inside the mouth. They can be soft in the case of an athletic guard or hard in the case of a nightguard. Mouthguards prevent injury to your teeth, jaws, cheeks and tongue. It has been theorized in the past that athletic guards may help prevent concussions, however, more research is required to adequately support this claim.
Nightguards can treat headaches and pain related to clenching and grinding. They also prevent wear on the teeth from clenching and grinding during sleep. Even patients that do not have pain but display signs of tooth wear can benefit from a nightguard. Patients that clench and grind their teeth are at increased risk of jaw joint issues, cracked teeth and tooth wear.
Custom or Generic?
This is one of the most common dilemmas when it comes to choosing any type of dental guard is a custom fit from your dentist or a stock guard from a store.
A stock athletic guard can be purchased from many different retailers. These are commonly referred to as boil-and-bite mouthguards. They are warmed and inserted into the mouth to adapt to the teeth. Boil-and-bite guards are a very good option for younger athletes that do not have all of their adult teeth. As baby teeth are lost a new stock guard can be purchased until the child has all of their adult teeth.
For athletes that have all of their adult teeth boil-and-bite guards or a custom athletic guard made by your dentist can be used. Custom made mouthguards tend to be less bulky and are perfectly adapted to the teeth. Many patients find that the guard is more likely to be worn when it is custom fit as compared to a stock mouthguard.
Many insurance plans will cover a portion of the cost for a custom athletic guard.
For Clenching and Grinding
While most pharmacies carry some form of stock mouth guard to treat clenching and grinding a custom guard made by your dentist is likely the best option. Stock night guards are made from softer materials. They do not last as long and can actually make pain from clenching worse as they can put more force on the jaw joint. A hard night guard custom made and adjusted by your dentist will last longer and be much more comfortable. This means there is a much higher chance you’ll wake up rested after an undisturbed sleep!
Many insurance plans cover a portion of the cost for custom made night guards.
The Risks of Going Without
Athletic guards can prevent fractured teeth, tooth loss, jaw fracture and injury to the tongue and cheeks. Beyond the immediate physical repercussions, many injuries to the mouth and jaw can result in unnecessary dental work. Mouthguards have been mandatory in most high-collision sports for decades, and with good reason. When considering what sports might pose the highest risk for oral injuries, many people would think of football, hockey or lacrosse. However many injuries are also seen in basketball, soccer, softball/baseball and gymnastics. You should consider an athletic guard for any sport whether it is required or not!
If you’re interested in a custom athletic guard or night guard, contact us for a thorough consultation.