Studies point out that mouth guards were used initially during boxing, to prevent injuries. Those mouth guards were different from what is prevalent now. Different materials were used, and the boxers had to clench it between their teeth.
Better materials are now used to prepare mouthguards. A lot of study and innovation has gone into this area; researchers and dentists have played a role in bringing about major changes in the form and structure of mouthguards.
Types of dental injuries that occur without using mouthguards:
- Chipped or broken teeth
- Broken crown or bridgework
- Lip and cheek injury
- Fractured jaws
- Injury to the jaw
- Nerve damage to the teeth
Knowing more about mouthguards
Mouthguards are worn as a protective cover in the mouth. It aims to reduce injury to the oral area by guarding the teeth and gums. These guards are used to prevent injury to the mouth – for this very reason it can be used in a variety of cases. Generally it is used in sports and also for certain clinical situations.
All contact sports have a very high probability of oral injury. It is very important that people are aware of the possible injuries that can happen while engaging in sports.
Mouthguards help to reduce harm in case of injury to the oral region or jaw. Because of this, mouthguards are made compulsory in official contact sport events. Studies have shown that there is a high incident rate of dental injuries when not wearing a mouthguard. If mouthguards are not used effectively or if they are not of the right fit, dental injuries can still occur.
Grinding of teeth is one of the most common conditions seen in many individuals. Both children and adults are affected by this condition. This can exist by itself or along with clenching of the teeth. It affects the oral health, along with patients developing painful accompanying symptoms. Jaw muscles become tight and painful and some may also have swelling in their jaw area as a result of continuous grinding.
Mouthguards can be used as splints to reduce strain in the case of swelling of the jaw. They are also used during bleaching of teeth and also as protectors when dental bridges used are thin. They are generally used as night protectors in the case of dental bridges.
Some other situations where mouthguards are used:
- When there is a chipped tooth because of excessive grinding
- When a person is taking anti-depressants
- When one needs to prevent tooth attrition
Types of Mouthguards
Mouthguards serve as a protection to teeth and other vital oral structures by offering protection to lower and upper teeth.
There are three types of mouthguards
Stock mouthguards which are ready to use mouth guards. They are inexpensive and can be brought over the counter at most sports and other local chemists. The drawback is that since they are ready made, they cannot be adjusted to one’s size.
Boil and bite mouthguards need to be placed in hot water to make it softer and hence the name. These are a better bit than stock mouthguards and can be brought from local chemists.
Custom fitted mouthguards are designed for individual’s use, usually done at a dentist’s office. They provide a good fit as a proper impression of the teeth is taken and then mouthguards are made at a dental laboratory.
Mouthguards based on need
Mouthguards are made of different materials- they defer based on the need it satisfies for patients. For this very reason, they are not available from stores, they are custom made at dental practices.
Soft night guard
- This is prescribed for patients who have a mild teeth grinding problem or bruxism
- This soft structure helps to prevent further teeth damage
- Helps to maintain teeth structure
- Also helps those who have teeth clenching problem
Dual laminate night guard
- This is usually prescribed for patients who a more severe case of teeth grinding
- Longer lasting and provides more protection
- Helps to prevent teeth damage and maintain teeth structure
Acrylic night guard
- This is prescribed for patients who have a very severe problem of teeth grinding
- Material is made of tougher and stronger material
- It is hard and long lasting
- Proper expertise is needed to ensure a good fit for this stronger night mouthguard
All information on the type of mouthguard suited for people with different uses, can be best given by dentists. Usually when availing a service with a dentist, they can provide you with information on which type of mouthguard is suitable for you. If it is for sports or medical concern like teeth grinding – the type of mouth guard that helps will be different.
If it is for medical reasons, then dentists will usually make the decision after a comprehensive dental examination. This will help the dentist assess the oral health of the patient and suggest which mouthguard is suitable. If one is wearing braces, then also mouthguards can be used as it offers a barrier against oral injuries during sports or other recreational games.
Caring for mouthguards
Mouthguards need to be taken care of as any other personal item. As it is worn daily, one needs to make sure that it is cleaned regularly and thoroughly. Cleaning mouthguards properly is vital if one is thinking of keeping mouthguards for long term use. Unclean mouthguards will attract bacteria.
Steps for mouthguard care
- Regular cleaning of mouthguard using toothbrush and toothpaste, ensuring to rinse thoroughly
- Proper care should be taken to make sure no soap/paste remains
- Leaving cleaning agent on mouthguard by way of improper cleaning can cause irritation of gum tissue and an unpleasant smell
- Need to be store in container after it is properly dried
- Mouthguards should not be chewed on as it will alter the shape
- Do not share mouthguard with others
- Regularly check if mouthguards have any holes or damage
- Need to be brought to dentist for review
These are some simple steps that one can take to make sure that mouthguards are clean and bacteria free. If the mouthguard becomes infected or there are abrasions on it, they can affect the gentle gum tissues and lead to some other complications. There are products available to help keep your mouthguard clean and hygienic.
Mouthguards offer good protection to the oral region, be it for sports or for medical reason. Proper thought and care needs to be taken to determine which type of mouth guards are useful and your dentist will be able to help in this aspect. All doubts and concerns should be discussed with the dentist as they are able to guide you better and help you make good decision regarding the protection of your teeth.