Mouth guards, also known as mouth protectors or dental guards, are devices typically made of soft plastic or a combination of soft and hard materials that are worn in the mouth to protect the teeth, gums, lips, and jaw during various activities. They serve different purposes and are used in various contexts:
- Sports Mouth Guards: These are perhaps the most common type of mouthguards. They are worn by athletes, especially in contact sports like football, hockey, and boxing, to protect the teeth from impacts and reduce the risk of dental injuries, including chipped or broken teeth, lip and cheek injuries, and concussions. Sports mouth guards are typically custom-made by a dentist to ensure a proper fit and maximum protection.
- Night Guards: Night guards, also known as dental or occlusal guards, are used by people who grind or clench their teeth during sleep (a condition called bruxism). These guards help prevent tooth damage, reduce muscle tension, and alleviate jaw pain associated with bruxism. They are typically made of a more rigid material than sports mouth guards and are customized to fit the individual's bite.
- Snoring and Sleep Apnea Guards: Some mouth guards are designed to help alleviate snoring or mild obstructive sleep apnea by repositioning the jaw and tongue to keep the airway open during sleep. These are known as snoring mouthpieces or anti-snoring devices. They are often available over-the-counter (OTC) or can be custom-fitted by a dentist for more severe cases of sleep apnea.
- Bite Guards for TMJ Disorders: Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders can cause jaw pain, headaches, and other uncomfortable symptoms. Bite guards also called splints or splint appliances, are sometimes used as part of TMJ treatment to help reduce the strain on the jaw joint and protect teeth from grinding or clenching.
- Orthodontic Retainers: After orthodontic treatment (braces or Invisalign), patients often wear retainers to maintain the position of their teeth. These retainers can be removable or fixed behind the teeth and are custom-made to fit the individual's mouth.
- Boil-and-Bite Mouth Guards: These are a type of sports mouth guard that can be purchased OTC. They are made from a thermoplastic material that softens when boiled and then molded to the wearer's teeth by biting down on it. While not as customized as professionally made mouthguards, they can provide a reasonable level of protection for sports enthusiasts.
Mouth guards are essential for preventing dental injuries and addressing various oral health issues. It's important to choose the right type of mouth guard based on your specific needs we will custom fit, especially when it comes to protecting your teeth during sports or managing dental conditions like bruxism or TMJ disorders. Proper care and maintenance of mouth guards are also crucial to ensure their effectiveness and longevity.