Mouth guards cover your gums and teeth to help keep your mouth and teeth from harm. Some more names for mouth guards are bite plane, bite splint, gum guard, gum shield, mouth piece, mouth protector, night guard, nocturnal bite splint, and occlusal splint.
Mouth guards should be used to keep you safe when you play contact or highly physical sports. They also help to reduce the effects of teeth clenching or grinding. In all cases, the goal of mouth guard use is to help you keep your teeth from being chipped or broken, prevent nerve damage, and avoid tooth loss. Also, mouth guards are used for some tooth whitening procedures.
Types of Mouth Guards
Mouth guards come in three types: stock, boil and bite, and custom fitted.
Stock Mouth Guards: Low cost stock mouth guards can be found at most department stores and sporting goods stores. This type is ready to use, but they do have a few down sides. Most dentists do not advise their use. The drawbacks include trouble related to proper fit as well as the ability to speak and breathe comfortably. This type offers the least defense for your mouth and teeth.
Boil and Bite Mouth Guards: This type is made from a kind of plastic that can be reshaped when heated. Boil and bite mouth guards can often be found at sporting goods stores, and they may fit better than stock mouth guards.
Custom-fitted Mouth Guards: This type is made in a dental office or lab for the person who will wear it. It gives the most comfort and the protection. Custom-fitted guards are also the most costly type due to the use of special materials and the time and work needed.
When to Use a Mouth Guard
You should wear a mouth guard when you take part in any activity that could pose a threat to your teeth or mouth.
People who grind or clench their teeth may use a type of mouth guard called a nocturnal bite plate or bite splint. This helps them keep their teeth from harm while they sleep. Conditions that may call for the use of a bite splint include bruxism and temporomandibular diseases (TMD).
Adults and kids who take part in contact sports (such as football, hockey, soccer, or boxing) should wear a mouth guard at all times while at play.
To learn more about mouth guards, talk to your dentist or dental hygienist.