Advantages and Uses of a Dental Mouth Guard
Mouth guards – also known as night guards or sports guards – are designed to protect the teeth and jaw from damage. They are recommended by dentists for individuals of all ages who are at a higher risk for developing oral health problems due to grinding of the teeth, bite obstructions and impact sustained from contact sports. There are many types of dental guards, each of which are customized to fit the patient’s needs.
Individuals who suffer from bruxism, or teeth grinding, find that a night guard can help achieve a better quality of sleep, as well as prevent sore and tense muscles around the jaw from constant biting during the night. A night guard can also protect the teeth from wearing down due to grinding and pressure, which could otherwise cause thinning of the enamel and even make the teeth more prone to decay over time.
Sports Bite Guards
Sports accidents are common, and a bite guard is especially beneficial to athletes who participate in high-contact activities. It is not uncommon to hear of athletes who have sustained serious damage to the teeth and tissues of the mouth that could have been easily prevented or minimized by a mouth guard. Football, hockey, soccer and basketball are examples of just a few high-risk sports in which participants should wear mouth protection.
As an added benefit, bite guards are generally composed of materials that are naturally absorptive to force, meaning the guards not only protect the teeth, but may also lessen the force to the entire skull and brain should the wearer suffer an injury.
The Advantage of Customized Night and Bite Guards
Although night guards are available over the counter at drug stores and other retailers, there is an advantage to getting a customized night or bite guard from a dentist. Professional dental guards provide the most accurate fit, because the dentist uses an impression of the patient’s teeth and natural bite, from which a laboratory constructs a custom guard. Without the accurate fit that a professional night or sports guard provides, the guard can become loose or even fall out of the mouth.
Caring for a Night or Sports Guard
In order to get the most effective use of a night or sports guard, proper care is essential. The guard must be thoroughly cleaned with cool, soapy water after each use, as well as regularly inspected for tears, holes or other wear. Furthermore, a dentist should inspect the mouth guard at each exam or teeth cleaning to ensure it is still providing proper protection.