An active lifestyle calls for active safety. The need for safety has led to the invention of helmets, goggles and knee pads to protect our bodies; but it is also important to remember to protect your teeth. The need to protect your teeth led to the invention of mouth guards.
A mouth guard or mouth protector is a flexible custom fitted device worn over teeth during athletic and recreational activities to protect them from damage.
In addition to cushioning your teeth from unnecessary force, a mouth guard can prevent injury to the tongue, lips, face and jaw. It can also prevent or lessen the effects of headaches and concussions.Patients who wear dental braces should be especially careful to protect their mouths during physical activity. Sport, leisure and recreation activities are the most common cause of dental injuries. Dental injuries can be painful, disfiguring and expensive to treat. Dental injuries may result in time off work or school to recover, and lengthy and expensive dental treatment.
It is therefore important to discuss the level of activity with your Holistic dentist and find out which type of dental mouth guard best fits your needs.
A protective mouth guard should:
- Not cause gagging
- Be thick enough (4 mm) to provide protection against impact
- Provides a high degree of comfort and fit.
- Is durable and easy to clean.
- Is resilient, tear-resistant, odourless and tasteless.
- Allows speaking and does not limit breathing and swallowing.
- Stays firmly in place during action.
Types of Mouthguards
There are three types of mouthguards :
- Custom-fitted – These mouthguards are made by a dentist or a dental technician to fit the person’s mouth. They provide the best protection due to their close fit, comfort and cushioning (shock absorption) effect. They are also the most expensive option. However, the cost of an injury to the teeth or jaw will be a lot more expensive. Dentists recommend custom-fitted mouthguards. Your dentist makes an impression of your teeth and a dental laboratory technician – either in the dentist’s office or at an off-site dental laboratory –uses the impression as a mould to create the custom-fitted mouth guard.
- Boil-and-bite – Made of thermoplastic, it is placed in boiling water then formed and moulded to the contours of the teeth using the fingers, lips, tongue and biting pressure.Boil-and-bite mouth guards can be reheated and refitted if the fit isn’t comfortable initially. These mouthguards may not conform to the person’s bite and can be uncomfortable to wear. A ‘boil-and-bite’ mouthguard should be replaced each season.
- Stock – A ready-to-wear mouth guard that can be purchased in sporting goods and drug stores . While these are the least expensive mouthguards, they are also uncomfortable, ill fitting, bulky, and offer the least amount of protection. They make breathing and talking difficult because they require the jaw to be closed to hold them in place.
How to care for your mouthguard
- Rinse the mouthguard in soap and warm water after each use. Allow it to air-dry.
- Disinfect the mouthguard from time to time with a mouthwash.
- Keep it in a well-ventilated plastic storage box when not in use. The box should have several holes in it.
- Do not leave it in direct sunlight, in a closed car or in the car’s glove box. Heat can damage it.
- Make sure your mouthguard is in good condition before each use.
- Ask your dentist to inspect it at every dental check-up.
- Replace it if it is damaged.
- Replace a child’s mouthguard every 12 to 18 months, even if it appears to be in good condition.
- Growth and new teeth can alter the fit.
- Replace an adult’s mouthguard after dental treatment or tooth loss. Otherwise, it should last for several years.
Safety tips for mouthguards
1. Wear the mouthguard at all times, including games and training sessions.
2. Players undergoing dental treatment can have a custom-fitted mouthguard made by their dentist to fit comfortably and accurately over their braces.
3. See your dentist if the mouthguard starts to feel uncomfortable or doesn’t fit well.