Trauma to the mouth can result in debilitating pain and cause severe dental damage, such as tooth fractures and jaw dislocations. Folks actively involved in contact sports are more likely to sustain serious oral injury. However, even regular recreational activities like hiking or boating could cause a blow to the mouth, resulting in a broken or knocked-out tooth.
Mouthguards help kids and adults avoid damage caused by impact to the jaw or bruxism (teeth grinding). Dentists also recommend these mouth-protecting devices for patients with TMJ disorders and sleep apnea. Mouth protectors come in all shapes and sizes – some pre-formed and others tailor-made for patients in a dental lab. Read on to learn how wearing a mouthguard can minimize your risk of teeth damage and discover which oral appliance can provide maximum comfort and protection.
What Protection does a Mouthguard Provide?
The market is full of ready-to-use protective dental appliances you can easily access nationwide in pharmacies. However, cosmetic dentist Dr. Reshma J. Patel recommends a custom-made device designed specifically for your mouth.
A custom mouthguard can safeguard your teeth, gums, and cheeks more effectively than any generic option. Let us look at the different levels of protection a custom-fitted mouthguard can offer.
Protection Against Fractures
Because custom-fitted mouth protectors are crafted to offer a superb fit, they can effectively prevent tooth fractures. These dental appliances distribute the force from impact across the chin, enabling your teeth to avoid a crushing blow. The layer of flexible plastic also cushions the mouth during a severe blow to the head, preventing fractures to the jaw that could require costly restorative procedures to fix.
A Safeguard for Other Dental Appliances
A well-fitted mouthguard creates a perfect buffer between your teeth and cheeks, preventing enamel chipping during impact. The appliance also protects dental appliances such as dental implants, braces, or fixed anterior bridgework, saving you regular trips to the dental office.
Keeping Your Gums and Tongue Safe
Another critical function of customized mouthguards is to cover the sharp surfaces of the teeth to protect soft tissue from injury. If you fall while playing sports, your mouthguard can prevent you from biting into your lip and tongue.
Reduced Pressure on Your Neck
Custom-fitted mouthguards are made of thick acrylic designed to absorb shocks in case of impact to the head, offering a layer of protection that secures your chin and neck. Custom devices also help prevent unintentional teeth clenching and jaw movement during sports, alleviating pressure on muscles and ligaments around your neck.
Benefits of a Custom-Made Mouthguard
To ensure that your mouthguard offers the best fit and Protection, Dr. Patel works with a team of dental laboratory technicians to generate an accurate impression of your gums and teeth. That mold is used to create a personalized mouth protection device that can stay in place even during violent nighttime teeth clenching.
Here are several benefits of custom-designed mouthguards that make them more effective than pre-made alternatives.
Enhanced Dental Hygiene
Ill-fitting stock mouth protectors pick up food particles and can quickly turn into a den for bacteria. You risk exposure to periodontal disease, gum irritation, and other dental issues by trusting a one-size-fits-all dental appliance. A custom mouthguard prescribed by a cosmetic dentist is easier to clean as it fits perfectly, allowing patients to maintain healthy gums and teeth.
A Proper Fit for Increased Comfort
Custom-fit mouthguards work better than ready-to-use alternatives because they are expertly trimmed and cut to provide a perfect fit. Thus, personalization makes the devices more comfortable to wear as they are tailored to your mouth, teeth, and jaw.
The sung shape also allows the tongue and teeth to move without interference, making breathing and talking easier. Moreover, a custom-fit mouth protector won’t come off during strenuous physical activity or violent nighttime teeth clenching. Generic options may require you to keep your mouth to hold them in place.
Increased Retention and Use
Custom mouthguards are made of high-quality resin that is comfy and flexible but also thick and sturdy enough to offer total protection. On the other hand, store-bought mouthguards are typically made of hard, inferior material that can get brittle and weak over time.
Patients tend to wear customized oral appliances for longer due to their superior comfort and quality material that does not deteriorate with frequent use. That said, even custom mouth protectors can suffer wear and tear or may need to be updated to accommodate changes in your mouth. Therefore, you may want to take the appliance to each dental checkup for a detailed examination.
What Conditions can Custom Mouth Guards Fix?
Customized mouthguards can be integral to your oral appliance therapy, empowering you to maintain an irresistible smile. Here are some conditions that a good-fitting mouth protector can help alleviate.
According to research by the National Institutes of Health, between 8% and 31.4% of adults suffer the effects of nighttime bruxism, which include tooth sensitivity, sore gums, and headaches. Wearing a custom mouthguard can cushion your jaw and teeth as you sleep, providing significant relief from involuntary teeth grinding and clenching.
Sleep Apnea and Snoring
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that blocks your airway at night, resulting in breathing cessation, brain fog, and morning headaches. Custom-made mouthguards for sleep apnea pull your lower jaw forward, allowing you to breathe normally during sleep. The right mouthguard for sleep apnea can also alleviate heavy snoring by preventing soft tissue vibrations in your upper airway.
Is a Customized Mouthguard Right for You?
Whether you’re actively involved in sports or grind your teeth while sleeping, a customized mouthguard can offer ample protection for your teeth and gums. Compared to over-the-counter mouth protectors, a custom oral device can achieve optional safety and comfort.
If you feel it’s time to talk to a dentist about getting a custom mouth protector, request an appointment with our Dynamic Smile Design team for a comprehensive oral exam. Dr. Patel will assess your needs and recommend a high-quality custom mouthguard that is safe and comfortable to wear.