What are mouth guards?
Mouth guards (also called mouth protectors, gum shields, or teeth guards) are oral appliances that protect your mouth and teeth from injury, during contact sport. They usually cover your entire upper teeth and gums and are properly fitted so it doesn’t move when you’re active. When choosing a mouth guard, it’s important that you consider these factors:
- Comfort – Since you’ll be wearing it for the entire game, it’s important that your mouth guard is comfortable and fits securely over your teeth.
- Durability – The whole point of mouth guards is to protect your teeth from injury. That being said, it should be able to resist tear and should last for a long time.
- Fit – Custom fit has a much superior adaptation and closeness to your teeth than a boil and bite mouthguard or stock mouthguard. If your teeth move or during a growing phase for kids it’s important to replace it if it stops fitting correctly.
- Easy to clean
- Doesn’t hinder speech, swallowing, or breathing
- Weight – Choose a mouth guard that is light weight
- Thickness – Mouth guards should be at least 4mm to withstand force from impact The actual sport you are engaging in and risk to teeth will dictate the thickness required for protection
- Size – It should cover all erupted teeth but not be so big as to make you gag
- Odour and taste – If it smells or tastes bad, get another one
It’s also important to note that mouth guards are different from grinding guards. They are made of different materials and serve completely different purposes so the two are not interchangeable.
What are the types of mouth guards?
The three types of mouth guards are:
- Boil and bite
- Stock (ready-made)
Boil and bite mouth guards, as well as ready-made ones, can be easily bought at your local drugstore, department store or sports shop. Boil and bite mouth guards are bought non-wearable and you need to take the time to make them fit your teeth at home. They take their form by moulding and pressing them against your teeth against them when they are soft (usually soaked in near boiling water for a minute or so to do this- follow the instructions on the packet as they may vary) As such they fit your mouth better than just stock ‘ready-made’ ones. However they don’t come close to a professionally made mouthguard, and with the cost of dental treatment being so expensive, if you are playing any contact sport you really should consider getting one made by us or another dentist in Maroubra. These custom-fit are made especially to fit your teeth and gums and adjusted to take into account the bite and impaction of the teeth should you receive a blow to your mouth. Professional mouth guards often come with warranties and insurance, check with your dentist which types they make. There are a number of recognised registered companies that make mouth guards, but your dentist may also have the machinery to do it themselves- either way custom-made is the way to go: when they’re made by a dental professional, you can be sure of their quality and durability.
Why should I wear a mouth guard?
If you play recreational activities or sports that involve contact, wearing a mouthguard will help reduce the risk of getting your teeth, lips, and soft tissues damaged. Direct damage to the teeth such as chipping, cracking, breaking, fracturing or being knocked out is greatly reduced. The more contact your sport involves, the more chance of you having an accident. We see it all the time, it’s just not worth the risk, you could end up with needing extensive dental treatment costing thousands of dollars over many years. Get one and wear it! If you wear retainers, braces,other orthodontic appliances or have crowns, bridges, veneers or implants, it is best to wear mouth guards to prevent anything from potentially breaking them. Anything removable should be taken out when playing e.g. removable orthodontic appliance to reduce the risk of having the soft tissues of your mouth injured.
How do I care for my mouth guard?
Follow these tips to properly care for your mouth guard:
- Firstly always wear it, don’t keep it in your sock or bag!
- Wash your mouthguard after every use, just rinse it thoroughly in cold water then allow it to air-dry.
- Store your mouth guard in a sturdy, perforated case to prevent damage. If it’s sealed and the mouthguard isn’t dry- it will soon start to go mouldy.
- Do not let your mouth guard sit in the sun or expose it to hot surfaces and environments (including hot water) as this can distort it.
- Take your mouth guard with you when you visit your Maroubra dentist and have it checked out.
- Always store it in its protective box and keep it in a safe place.
Remember to replace your mouth guard, when you feel as if doesn’t fit securely anymore, or if you see any damage on it. For children during a growing phase, always use a custom-made professional dentist mouth guard!