Have you ever lost a tooth after a fateful fall from the swing or did the ball hit you too hard and knocked out a milk tooth? If it’s a yes, you must have wondered if only there was something to protect your teeth. Well, that’s where a mouthguard comes into the picture; it keeps your teeth safe. Mouthguards are dental devices that protect your teeth from injuries you might sustain during sports or when you grind or clench your teeth in your sleep. Moreover, using a mouthguard can also reduce snoring and relieve the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.
While mouthguards are quite effective, you need to get acquainted with the different types of mouthguards and which situations demand the use of one. Let’s take a look.
When do you need mouthguards?
Mouthguards can be used by anyone, children and adults alike. While there’s a general belief that these dental appliances are meant for those who are involved in contact sports, mouthguards are also used to protect teeth in medical conditions that pose a risk of injury to the mouth.
Teeth grinding (Bruxism)
There are times when we grind or clench our teeth, but mostly we are in control of this movement. However, when you do the same while you are asleep, it can lead to a variety of problems, such as jaw pain, tooth pain, and sore gums. This kind of teeth grinding and clenching are symptoms of a condition called bruxism, which is a sleep-related movement disorder. In such cases, you need a mouthguard for grinding, to prevent damage to your teeth and mouth. The bruxism mouth guard will keep your top and bottom teeth separated so that when you try to clench or grind your teeth, they won’t damage each other
Another condition that benefits from using a mouthguard is sleep apnea. This disorder causes the individual to temporarily stop breathing while they are asleep. It obstructs the flow of oxygen to the brain and increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, and causes excessive snoring as well. While a CPAP machine is used to help people with sleep apnea to keep the airways open while they sleep, a custom-made mouthguard is often used for those with mild sleep apnea. So, instead of covering your teeth, this mouth guard for sleeping pushes the lower jaw and tongue forward, thereby keeping the airways open.
Did you know some mouthguards can be used to reduce snoring as well? These mouthguards function similarly to the ones used for sleep apnea. They reduce snoring that occurs due to vibrations of soft tissue in the upper airway. These mouthguards work by pulling the lower jaw forward in order to keep the airway open.
Sports, especially contact sports, involve the risk of injuries that can impact your face. Using a mouthguard to protect your teeth can prevent injuries to the lips and tongue as well. If you play football, soccer, field hockey, boxing, basketball, wrestling, volleyball, or softball, it’s best if you use a sports mouthguard.
Types of mouthguards
While using mouthguards can protect your teeth from damage, you need to choose the right one for it to be effective. Let’s look at the different types of mouthguards.
This is the most affordable type of mouthguard and is easily available. These mouthguards are available in small, medium, and large sizes and are worn over your teeth. While stock mouthguards are inexpensive and easy to find, they cover only the top teeth. This means that your lower teeth remain vulnerable to damage. Moreover, with the limited sizing options, they may prove uncomfortable if you do not get the right ones.
As the name suggests, these mouthguards are custom-made by your dentist. They take a mould of your teeth and create a mouthguard that fits the structure of teeth and mouth. These mouthguards are more comfortable than the store-bought ones and are harder to dislodge while you are sleeping. A custom-made mouthguard is the best viable option if you grind your teeth when you sleep or if you have sleep apnea.
Boil-and-bite mouthguards come in a single size and can be customised to fit your teeth. This method involves boiling the mouthguard until it softens and you have to bite it down after placing it over your front teeth.
Can you wear a mouthguard if you have braces?
The question that bothers most people who wear braces is whether they can wear a mouthguard over their braces? The answer is yes, definitely. In fact, you need a mouthguard if you grind or clench your teeth or are involved in contact sports even if you have braces. You can consult with your dentist and opt for a custom-made mouthguard for braces. Such mouthguards cover both the upper and lower teeth and protect your lips, tongue, and cheeks from damage. Moreover, the mouthguard even protects your braces from damage. Just ensure that you choose a mouthguard that fits perfectly over your braces and is comfortable.
How to take care of a mouthguard?
While a mouthguard protects your teeth, you need to protect the mouthguard from any damage and keep it clean as you’ll be wearing it over your teeth for quite some time. Here’s how you take care of your mouthguard
Brush your teeth before you use a mouthguard. To ensure that your teeth are clean and there are no food particles stuck between them, you can use Oral-B iO 8 Ultimate Clean Electric Toothbrush which offers a gentle brushing experience and a fresh, clean mouthfeel. It is equipped with 6 Smart Modes that help personalise your brushing experience. The Smart Pressure Sensor turns red when the pressure is too much and turns green when it is just right.
Do not forget to floss! While brushing your teeth keeps them clean, you need to floss as well to ensure that even the tiny food particles that are lodged between your teeth and gums are removed. You can use Oral-B EssentialFloss that slides easily between your teeth and gums and gives you healthier gums and plaque-free teeth.
Rinse your mouthguard with mouthwash or cool water before you put it in and take it out. Do not use hot water since it can bend it out of shape.
Store the mouthguard in a hard container to protect it and ensure that it has some space for ventilation so that it dries out between uses.
Check for holes or other signs of damage and get it replaced if you find them.
Mouthguards offer a convenient way to protect your teeth and have been proven to help certain health conditions. You no longer have to worry about the damage your teeth would sustain due to the clenching and grinding movements that occur when you sleep. Ensure that you take care of your mouthguard for better results.