Are Dental Mouth Guards Right for You?

May 15, 2016 @ 09:00 AM — by Neil L. Starr, DDS

A mouth guard For some, protecting the teeth requires more than regular brushing and flossing. Mouth guards can provide an extra level of protection for those who are at increased risk of dental damage. Restorative dentistry treatments can correct dental damage and restore your appearance so you can smile with confidence. Mouth guards, in particular, can prevent damage and protect dental restorations. To find out if dental mouth guards are right for you, schedule a consultation with Washington, DC dentist Neil L. Starr.

Types of Mouth Guards

Mouth guards are protective trays worn over the upper teeth. There are different types of mouth guards, which can be used to address a variety of needs. Mouth guards may be worn when playing sports to protect the teeth from injury. They may also be worn while sleeping by those who suffer from teeth grinding or temporomandibular joint disorder, also called TMD. The different types of mouth guards include:

  • Stock mouth guards: Stock mouth guards are pre-made, non-customizable dental protectors. These types of mouth guards are commonly found over-the-counter. Because they are not adjustable, stock mouth guards are typically not appropriate for use while sleeping and can be uncomfortable.
  • Boil and bite mouth guards: Boil and bite mouth guards offer some customization because they are made of a special type of plastic that softens when placed in hot water. When the plastic has been softened, place the mouth guard in your mouth and bite down to mold the mouth guard to your teeth. Boil and bite mouth guards are commonly found in sporting goods stores because they are generally suitable for athletic use.
  • Custom-fitted mouth guards: Custom-fitted mouth guards are generally made in a dental office from an impression taken of the teeth. Custom-fit mouth guards offer the most comfort and protection.
  • Nocturnal bite plate or bite splint: Those who suffer from teeth grinding or TMD often benefit from nocturnal bite plates or bite splints.

Candidates for Mouth Guards 

Mouth guards can protect the teeth from damage and injury, and alleviate the symptoms of TMD. Mouth guards are beneficial for anyone who requires additional protection. Candidates for mouth guards include:

  • Athletes: Sports-related injuries can lead to dental chips, fractures, and tooth loss. Wearing a mouth guard while playing sports can help protect the teeth from injury. Those who play contact sports, like football, hockey, and wrestling, can greatly benefit from wearing a mouth guard. Even those who skateboard or rollerblade should consider wearing a mouth guard to protect their teeth in the event of a fall or accident.
  • Those who suffer from teeth grinding: Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, can cause permanent damage to the teeth, including enamel wear and fractures. Wearing a mouth guard while sleeping can protect the teeth and gums from the damage caused by bruxism.
  • Those with temporomandibular joint disorder: TMD symptoms can be aggravated by clenching the teeth while sleeping. In some cases, mouth guards can help alleviate the symptoms of TMD by preventing clenching of the teeth and reducing stress on the jaw.

Are You a Candidate for a Mouth Guard? 

Mouth guards can protect the smile and reduce the risk of dental injury. To find out if you're a candidate for a mouth guard, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Starr.

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