Mouth Guards

The Importance of a Mouth Guard

Dental injuries are the most common type of facial injury in sports. According to the ADA, an American

Association of Orthodontists survey found that 84 percent of children do not wear mouth guards while

playing organized sports because they are not required to wear them. Although other protective

materials, such as goggles, helmets, shoulder pads or shin guards are required in order to participate,

mouth guards sometimes are not. But not only do mouth guards save teeth; they help protect the jaw as

well.

All young athletes would benefit from wearing a protective mouth guard. Sports, such as football,

wrestling, soccer, basketball and lacrosse — to name a few — pose a high risk of injury to the mouth and

jaw. The chances of a sports-related injury to the mouth and jaw are minimized by wearing a mouth

guard, which best explains why you need one. Athletic mouth guards are thin, flexible pieces of plastic

that are placed in the mouth and over the teeth to protect oral structures during any sports activity.

Types of Mouth Guards

There are three types of mouth guards, as detailed by WebMD. Stock and boil-and-bite mouth guards

are usually found in most sporting goods stores. Athletic mouth guards can vary in comfort and cost. A

custom-made mouth guard fabricated by a dentist or orthodontist is considered by many to be the most

protective option. The most effective mouth guard is resilient, tear-resistant and comfortable. It should

fit properly, be durable, be easy to clean and should not restrict speech or breathing. Generally, a mouth

guard covers only the upper teeth.

Grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw are more than just anxious habits. In fact, according to the

American Dental Association (ADA), teeth grinding — also known as bruxism — can create serious

problems for oral health. People who grind their teeth may be unaware of the habit because it typically

occurs while they sleep. Bruxism can have far-reaching effects on oral health, including tooth wear and

the development of TMJ disorder, but a simple solution is to wear a custom-made mouth guard for

teeth grinding.

Bruxism and Oral Health

The primary causes of bruxism are stress and anxiety. Over time, the physical reaction to emotional

stressors of grinding the teeth and clenching the jaw becomes habitual.

According to the ADA, people who grind their teeth ultimately weaken their tooth’s structures. Tooth

enamel is the protective barrier that surrounds teeth and it is especially prone to damage from teeth

grinding. Extra force placed on the teeth from bruxism can also damage restorative dental work, such as

fillings and crowns.

Grinding the teeth and clenching the jaw also strain the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which connects

the jawbone to the skull, according to WebMD. Long-term strain and stress on the TMJ can produce

discomfort, including facial pain and headaches.

Mouth Guard for Teeth Grinding

Fortunately, the simplest solution for preventing damage to teeth from bruxism is the use of a

professionally made mouth guard. Tell your dentist if you or a family member is known to grind their

teeth or clench the jaw. Even if you are unaware of the habit, your dentist may notice it during your oral

exam because excessive wear on the back molars and enamel loss both indicate bruxism.

A mouth guard for teeth grinding is a custom-fitted oral appliance that is made of plastic. This type of

mouth guard is worn during sleep and prevents the teeth from scraping against each other. By

addressing bruxism early with professional treatment, you can prevent widespread damage to your

teeth.

In addition to prescribing a mouth guard, your dentist may have to restore damaged teeth with crowns

or fillings to improve oral function and maintain the proper shape and size of the teeth

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