Your dentist is a healthcare provider that looks after your teeth and gums in more ways than you might imagine. In addition to helping you avoid and address things like cavities and gum disease, your dentist also has the training to develop treatments around preserving your general oral structure. If you play sports or you know that you clench and grind your teeth, it can be immensely beneficial to talk to your dentist about a custom-made mouthguard.
Dr. Ania Mohelicki has been providing comfortable, efficient, and friendly dental care for over 25 years. Her training and experience make her an ideal resource for your various dental needs. If you would like more information regarding mouth guard design, fabrication, and use, contact our office in Boulder, CO at (303) 872-9940.
What is a Mouth Guard?
A mouth guard is a type of oral appliance that is made to protect your teeth, gums, and jawbone structure from injury or excessive wear. Mouthguards made by the dentist fit perfectly into your mouth for the most comfortable protection possible.
What Conditions do Mouth Guards Treat?
There are two reasons a mouthguard may be recommended. One is that you play sports that could result in an injury to the face or mouth. The other is that you clench and grind your teeth. This habit, called bruxism, usually happens when you sleep, so you may not be aware when you do it. Sports mouthguards aren’t just for kids and teens who play sports like baseball or football. They are for people of all ages who live active lives. Activities like soccer, basketball, even cycling and ice skating have risks of falls and collisions. A mouth guard fits over the teeth so, in the case of force, there is less of a chance of a tooth breaking or getting knocked out. Mouth guards that are worn at night, called night guards, are designed to reduce the movement of the jaw and also buffer force from clenching.
What Are the Benefits of a Mouth Guard?
The primary benefit of a custom-fit mouthguard made by your dentist is that your teeth, gums, and joints are better protected from injury. The ongoing force of bruxism, for example, can wear down your enamel and also increase the risk of gum recession and root damage. The less enamel you have, the higher your risk of getting cavities or suffering from tooth sensitivity. Maintaining continuous wear of a mouth guard made for bruxism can also help preserve adequate function in the temporomandibular joints and may help reduce or prevent headaches caused by TMJ disorder. The process of getting a custom mouthguard from the dentist is convenient. It may take only two or three visits to have a well-made mouthpiece that isn’t just comfortable but is also durable.
Are there Different Types of Mouth Guards?
There are three basic types of mouthguards used today. They include:
- Stock mouthguards, which you purchase from a drugstore or sports retailer. This type of mouthguard is “ready-to-wear,” which means there is no way that it can fit properly. Because they can be bulky, stock mouthguards are known to inhibit proper breathing during sports.
- Boil and Bite mouthguards are slightly more customizable but have lots of room for error. To fit the mouthguard, you soften it by placing it in boiling water. Then, when it’s cool enough, you insert it into the mouth and bite down on it. This type of mouthguard can also feel bulky in the mouth.
- Custom dental mouthguards are made specifically for your dentition. To make this oral device, your dentist takes an impression of your teeth and sends the information to a lab in which the mouthguard is made to just the right thickness to address your needs.
How Long Does it take to Adjust to a Mouth Guard?
When you first begin wearing a mouthguard, you’ll probably notice that you salivate more. Excessive salivation and drooling are a normal part of having something in your mouth. It can take about two weeks for your body to adjust to this and regain normal saliva production while your mouthguard is in place. If you wear a mouthguard for bruxism, you may wake up with a dry mouth. Your mouthguard might allow you to sip water comfortably as needed if you wake at night feeling parched. This also should go away in a few weeks.
How Often Should You Change Mouth Guards?
Because your mouthguard is intended to protect your teeth and oral structure, it is important to maintain it! If you notice wear and tear or the symptoms you had from bruxism return, bring your mouthguard into the office for a check-up. Dr. Mohelicki may recommend a general evaluation of your mouthguard at every six-month recall visit. In some cases, replacement is needed as often as every six months.