Nobody wants to deal with the effects of tooth fracture and loss, which is why more and more individuals are turning toward the protection of dental mouthguards. Simply put, a mouthguard is a soft plastic device that covers your teeth and gums to prevent injuries to the mouth, jaw, teeth, face and head. Wearing one can greatly reduce the risk of traumatic injury, consequently preserving the quality of your teeth and smile.
BENEFITS OF MOUTHGUARDS
While the idea of wearing a mouthguard might not seem appealing, the benefits make it a worthy investment. Some of the key advantages of mouthguards include:
- Protects the mouth and brain from external forces
- Prevents damage to other orthodontic appliances
- Reduces the risk of costly repairs
In addition to protecting your gums and teeth from external impact, mouthguards can shelter you from head injuries by cushioning blows. Moreover, mouthguards prevent damage to orthodontic appliances such as bridges and braces, which saves you from expensive repairs down the line.
Some individuals benefit from mouthguards more than others. At your appointment, Dr. Patel can assess your needs and help determine whether or not you should be utilizing a mouthguard.
DO I NEED A MOUTHGUARD?
There are two central reasons why someone might need a mouthguard. The first is bruxism, or teeth grinding. According to Premier Health, approximately 10% of people unintentionally grind their teeth at night, which can cause jaw pain and poor breathing. Teeth grinding is typically the result of stress–when someone is under stress, their body responds by clenching muscles and producing cortisol, which lowers oxygen intake and causes muscle pain. A mouthguard can prevent grinding and clenching, which leads to better breathing and reduced jaw pain.
Another segment of the population that benefits from mouthguards is athletes. The Journal of the American Dental Association reports that up to 39% of dental injuries are sports-related–even low-impact sports can cause injuries that lead to tooth chipping and loss. Not only do mouthguards protect the teeth and mouth, but they also reduce the risk of head injuries. Mouthguards essentially lock your jaw in place, stabilizing your muscles and limiting the odds of sustaining a concussion or whiplash. Sports that come with a high risk of mouth and brain injuries include:
You don’t need to be a professional athlete to use a mouthguard–any child or adult that plays sports can take advantage of these tools.
CUSTOM VS OVER-THE-COUNTER MOUTHGUARDS
When it comes to choosing a mouthguard, there are two main options: a custom mouthguard and an over-the-counter, or ready-made, mouthguard. Understanding the differences between the two will help you make the best decision.
Over-the-counter mouthguards, also known as stock mouthguards, can be purchased online or at your local pharmacy. The easy availability of ready-made mouthguards makes them a convenient option for anyone looking for quick, simple mouth protection.
On the downside, stock mouthguards are not designed to meet the unique characteristics of every individual’s mouth. Thus, it might require some effort on your part to find one that fits well. The imprecise measurements mean that they cannot offer a high level of protection–a stock mouthguard may even fall out during an athletic event. Finally, these mouthguards are typically made of bulky material that can cause discomfort and even gagging.
Unlike a stock mouthguard, a custom mouthguard cannot be bought at a local store. Rather, they are professionally crafted by a dentist to meet the exact proportions of your mouth and jaw. The material is evenly spread across your mouth, which provides a heightened level of comfort and stability while promoting protection and proper breathing. Custom mouthguards are made from high-quality materials and are designed to last long.
There are methods available that help you create your own custom mouthguards, such as bite and boil mouthguards. These devices are softened with hot water before the user bites into them, resulting in a rough mold of the mouth and teeth. While these are less expensive than professional custom mouthguards, they are not built to be long-lasting and can be easily bitten through. Ultimately, if you’re looking for a high-quality, durable mouthguard that can efficiently protect your mouth without causing discomfort, your best bet is a custom model.
HOW ARE CUSTOM MOUTHGUARDS MADE?
Creating a custom mouthguard is a quick, simple process. Over the course of 20 minutes, Dr. Patel will take impressions of your teeth and register your bite to create a mold of your mouth. Your completed mouthguard will be ready in about 10 days. Dr. Patel recommends Under Armour Performance Mouthwear, a premier brand that enhances athletic performances and helps get bruxism under control.
TAKING CARE OF MOUTHGUARDS
To prolong the lifespan and protect the quality of your mouthguard, it’s important to take good care of the device. Dr. Pruig suggests the following care regime:
- Store the mouthguard in a clean, well-ventilated container
- Limit exposure to heat
- Brush your mouthguard with a toothbrush and paste before and after each use
- Keep your mouthguard in a safe place in your home
- Secure the mouthguard when transporting it to prevent damage
It’s also advisable to bring your mouthguard in during dental visits to ensure that it is in prime condition.
SCHEDULE A CUSTOM FITTING
Whether you are experiencing jaw pain from unintentional teeth grinding or worried about sustaining an injury due to sports, it’s important to get a mouthguard to prevent any severe damage. Obtaining a custom mouthguard from a professional is the best way to protect your teeth, jaw and brain while optimizing comfort.
Dr. Patel and the Dynamic Smile Team are ready to equip you with a mouthguard that fits perfectly and feels good. If you’re looking for a custom fitting or simply want to learn more about mouthguards, don’t hesitate to request an appointment today!