Mouth guards also known as night guards or sports guards - are designed to protect the teeth and jaw from damage.
They are recommended for patients of all ages who are at risk of 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 customised 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
A Sports Bite Guard is beneficial to athletes who participate in high-contact sports. 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 minimised by a mouth guard. Rugby, football and hockey are some examples of sports in which participants should wear mouth protection.
The Advantages of Mouth Guards
Although night guards are available over the counter at chemists 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.
On the other hand, bypassing a professional dental guard fitting and customisation can lead to even more problems in the future. Individuals who purchase an over-the-counter dental guard that is improperly fitted often find that they develop even more pain or complications with prolonged usage. These guards are also typically made of inferior materials than professional guards, meaning they need to be replaced more often.
Should you decide to be fitted for a professional dental guard, your dentist will analyze your particular mouth guard needs and make a recommendation for either a hard or soft material based on a professional analysis. They can pinpoint targeted support areas for a better bite adjustment that will not leave the muscles and tissues in and around your jaw feeling sore or inflamed. Additionally, with the professional supervision and oversight that a dentist provides, you can quickly identify whether adjustments need to be made to your night or sports guard over time.
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 examination or teeth cleaning to ensure it is still providing proper protection.