A dental mouth guard serves a variety of purposes. They can be used by athletes to protect their teeth and gum tissue from harm while playing sports. Dental mouth guards can also be used while you sleep, if you are prone to grinding your teeth. They can also be used to protect teeth and gums as well as the lips and cheeks from damage, injury, bruising and lacerations that can occur as a result of wearing an orthodontic appliance or braces.
Your dentist may recommend a dental mouth guard for any of the above reasons. Dental mouth guards come in different styles—some are designed specifically to protect the gums, others to protect the upper or lower teeth, and some to do both.
To be most effective, a dental mouth guard should be properly fitted, especially if you have had dental work. The mouth guard should fit comfortably over any bridge work, braces, so as to protect but not interfere with the work. It is possible to purchase ready-to-wear mouth dental mouth guards, but they often don't fit very comfortably. Consult with your dentist as to whether a store-bought mouth guard would be sufficient enough for your needs, or if a custom-fitted dental mouth guard is more preferable.
Types of mouth guards
There are three types of mouth protectors:
- Stock - Inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. Unfortunately, they often don't fit very well. They can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult.
- Boil and bite - Can be bought at many sporting goods stores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. They should be softened in water, then inserted and allowed to adapt to the shape of your mouth. If you don't follow the directions carefully you can wind up with a poor-fitting mouth protector.
- Custom-fitted - Made by your dentist for you personally. They are more expensive than the other versions, but because they are customized, they can offer a better fit than anything you can buy off the shelf.