If you play sports, you’ve probably heard that you should wear a mouth guard to protect your teeth and jaw from injury. Your teeth and mouth are valuable aspects of your appearance, especially if you have veneers, crowns, or other restorative or cosmetic dentistry work.
But mouth guards aren’t just for athletes. Surprisingly, one of the most important times to wear a mouth guard is while you’re sleeping. Whether due to stress or tooth alignment issues, you could be unknowingly clenching or grinding your teeth at night, which can lead to fractures, decay and even tooth loss.
At our Freehold, NJ practice, we offer custom-made mouth guards for a range of patients. Let’s review the reasons for needing a mouth guard and the types of products available.
Mouth Guards for Sports
Some sources show that athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer tooth damage when not wearing a mouth guard. So why risk it? By including a mouth guard in your gym bag or sport kits, you can easily remind yourself to protect your teeth and jaw from potential long-term damage.
We recommended wearing a mouth guard for collision and contact sports (such as football, basketball, soccer, and martial arts) as well as limited or non-contact sports (such as baseball and raquetball). All of these activities can result in serious impact with another player or with a hard surface, both of which can injure your mouth and teeth. It’s great when our patients are active and play sports, but we don’t like to see the damage it can cause to the teeth when it’s usually preventable.
Mouth Guards for Braces
If you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment, it’s especially important to protect your teeth and mouth during sports activities. Braces themselves can create irritations in your mouth, and playing sports can further irritate those pesky sore spots. Plus, when you have braces, the last thing you want is to chip or completely knock out a tooth, which can complicate your orthodontic treatment. A special mouth guard from our office can fit comfortably over your braces, so you can continue playing sports, knowing that your teeth and mouth are safe.
Night Guards for TMD
For patients who suffer from temporomandibular disorder (TMD), a custom-made night guard is often prescribed to place the jaw in better alignment and relieve discomfort during sleep. Other solutions for TMD are to adjust your existing restorations, such as such as fillings or dental crowns, which may have worn down and no longer fit correctly.
Night guards can also help prevent clenching and grinding, known by dentists as “bruxism.” When you clench or grind your teeth, the constant pressure between your teeth can lead to enamel damage, cavities, fractures, and even tooth loss. Plus, worn-down teeth can make you look older.
Many people grind or clench their teeth at night without even knowing it. If you suffer from jaw pain, earaches, headaches, or a popping or clicking sound in your jaw, we recommend that you schedule an appointment to see Dr. Sternberg.
Types of Mouth Guards
Mouth guards are commonly available in drug stores and sporting goods stores and also through your dentist, with varying levels of protection.
- Stock: These inexpensive guards are available at most sporting good stores and are pre-formed and ready to wear right out of the package. However, they usually don’t fit very well and can make it difficult to breath and talk. Dentists do not recommend their use, since they provide the least amount of protection.
- Boil and bite: Also available at many sporting goods stores, these guards offer a better fit and are less bulky than stock guards. To form them to your mouth, the material is first put into boiling water and then placed into your mouth. It is a good option for children who are still losing their “baby teeth,” but it is not recommended for teenagers and adults.
- Custom-made: Because these guards are individually made by your dentist, they offer the best fit, comfort, and protection. To design your mouth guard, we first take an impression of your teeth and use that to mold a custom guard from special dental material.
Learn More about Mouth Guards
If you would like to learn more about custom mouth guards, teeth grinding, or jaw pain, please contact our Freehold practice today. During the consultation, we can assess your bite, risk of injury or tooth damage, and review all of your treatment options.