A mouth guard is an oral device that is used to protect your teeth. They can be helpful in cases of teeth grinding, for protecting the teeth when playing sports, and to help reduce snoring or relieve obstructive sleep apnea. It’s important to make an informed choice, so here’s some information on the use of a night guard or sports guard, courtesy of Brewery District Dental, in New Westminster, BC.
Night Guard or Sports Guard – the Basics
Mouth guards and sports guards are made from plastic. They are designed to fit over your teeth. Stock mouth guards are usually available for the top teeth only. They are available in small, medium and large sizes. Readily available and inexpensive, they can be uncomfortable and may not fit well. Boil and bite mouth guards come in only one size. You boil the guard until it softens and then place it over your teeth, biting down until it conforms to the teeth. Custom-made guards, fashioned by your dentist, are the best choice. While slightly more expensive, they fit well and are more comfortable as they are made from an actual mold of your teeth.
Which Should I Use?
It’s important to use a custom-made guard if you snore, have sleep apnea or grind your teeth, as proper fit is required to help alleviate these problems. Dental insurance plans often cover custom-made guards. Contact sports such as football, soccer, hockey and boxing carry a high risk of facial injury, but so do other sports such as gymnastics, skateboarding and volleyball. For high-impact sports, the boil and bite guard is probably the best choice because they fit better. However, a stock mouth guard may also work, especially if you only play sports occasionally. You can wear guards with braces, especially a custom-made mouth guard.
Other Reasons for Guards
Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a disorder that occurs when you sleep. It can cause tooth pain, jaw pain or sore gums, as well as excessive tooth wear. The purpose of a guard, in this case, is to protect your teeth by keeping them separated. Custom-fitted guards are the best choice here. However, if you are unsure whether you would benefit, ask your dentist about trying a boil and bite mouth guard first to see if it helps. Sleep apnea is another sleep disorder in which you actually stop breathing temporarily while asleep. A custom made guard can help relieve mild sleep apnea – some have a strap that helps keep the chin in the right position.
Caring For Your Guard
To care for your guard, rinse with cold water before and after use. Clean the guard occasionally in cool, soapy water and rinse well. Keep it in a container with good air circulation – acrylic guards should be stored in water that is changed daily. Have your dentist check the guard at each preventive dental visit.
If you think you might need a mouth guard, please contact us. Dr. Jonathon and Dr. Francis Yeung can assess your situation and make recommendations for care. We offer a wide variety of preventive and endodontic services for all ages.