Guarding Your Mouth for Life
If you are an individual who grinds their teeth at night, your dentist may have already recommended you a dental night guard to help protect your teeth and mouth. There are a number of them that you can choose from. You can purchase them over-the-counter or be prescribed one by your dentist of family physician.
Using a mouth guard for clenching teeth has proven to be beneficial by a number of different experts. However, you should not use one without consulting with your dentist or physician as you could have a more serious condition.
Benefits of Using a Mouth Guard
A mouth guard (mouth protector) is a flexible custom fitted device worn over teeth during athletic and recreational activities to protect them from damage. A good-fitting mouth guard may be especially important if you wear braces, have fixed anterior bridgework or just want to protect your teeth/smile from potential trauma.
Mouth guards can buffer damage to the teeth, the brackets and/or other fixed appliances from blows and physical contact. Mouth guards can also act as a barrier between teeth/braces and the cheeks, between the lips and tongue, thereby limiting the risk of soft tissue damage.
The ideal mouth guard also:
- Allows speaking and does not limit breathing.
- Stays firmly in place during action.
- Provides a high degree of comfort and fit.
- Is durable and easy to clean.
- Is resilient, tear-resistant, odorless and tasteless.
Who Should Wear a Mouth Guard?
Currently, the U.S. National Collegiate Athletic Association requires the use of mouth guards only for ice hockey, lacrosse, field hockey and football. However, the American Dental Association recommends the use of a mouth guard for 29 sports/exercise activities. These include the four activities already mentioned, plus acrobatics, basketball, boxing, discus throwing, gymnastics, handball, martial arts, racquetball, rugby, shot putting, skateboarding, skiing, skydiving, soccer, squash, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting and wrestling. Essentially, whenever there’s a chance of contact with other players or hard surfaces, wearing a mouth guard makes sense.
For professional advice about how to protect your teeth during athletic activities, talk to your dentist or orthodontist about selecting a mouth guard that will provide the best protection for your particular needs.
Advantages of a Mouth Guard
Wearing a mouth guard is an important precaution for athletes of all ages and abilities, helping to protect against chipped or broken teeth, root and bone damage, and tooth loss. Mouth guards also safeguard against serious injuries such as jaw fracture, cerebral hemorrhage, concussion and neck injuries by helping to avoid situations where the lower jaw jams into the upper jaw. By keeping soft tissue in the oral cavity away from the teeth, mouth guards help prevent cutting and bruising of the lips, tongue and cheeks, especially for athletes who wear orthodontic appliances.