What Does a Mouth Guard Do?

Reviewed on 3/4/2021

A mouth guard is a dental device used to protect the teeth
A mouth guard is a dental device used to protect the teeth

A mouth guard is a dental device used to protect the teeth, tongue, cheeks, and gums from a trauma caused by teeth grinding (bruxism) or sports injuries. Mouth guards should be worn to

  • Minimize the risk of broken or chipped teeth.
  • Prevent injuries to the lips.
  • Cushion a blow to the face.
  • Protect the soft tissues of the tongue and cheek lining.
  • Prevent nerve damage to the tooth.
  • Protects braces, dental implants, and dental bridges from damage.

Who might need a mouth guard?

A mouth guard can be used by children and adults who

  • Engage in contact sports such as football, boxing, ice hockey, basketball, lacrosse, and field hockey.
  • Engage in noncontact sports or activities with a high fall risk such as gymnastics and ice skating.
  • Engage in recreational activity such as skateboarding and mountain biking.
  • Suffer from bruxism (teeth grinding) in sleep.

How should I care for a mouth guard?

A mouth guard can pick up bacteria from your mouth. Always clean your teeth properly before wearing a mouth guard. Replace the mouth guard if it shows a sign of wear, is damaged, or ill-fitting. Here are some tips to take care of mouth guards:

  • Wash before and after each use or brush with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Clean the mouth guard in cool, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly.
  • Never leave the mouth guard in the sun or hot water. High temperature can warp or disfigure the mouth guard.
  • Store the mouth guard in a sturdy, vented plastic case when not in use.
  • Keep the mouth guard away from the reach of dogs and other pets.
  • Always carry your mouth guard during your dental visit. Your dentist will examine it or carry out deep cleaning.
  • Check the mouth guard for any holes or tears in it or if it becomes loose or causes discomfort.

What are the different types of a mouth guard?

There are two main categories of mouth guards:

  1. Those that are made to protect people from trauma during sports or athletic activities
  2. Those made for people with bruxism

The different types of mouth guard include:

  • Custom-fitted: In this type, the dentist uses an impression of your teeth to custom-make a mouth guard that comfortably fits your teeth and mouth. They provide the best fit and protection.
  • Boil-and-bite: This is a thermoplastic material that you can shape at home to fit your teeth. First, you should place the mouth guard in hot water. After the mouth guard softens a bit, you put it into your mouth and use your fingers to press it onto the molars and front teeth. When the mouth guard feels like it’s in the correct position, you bite down for about 20 seconds. Finally, remove the device and run it under cool water.
  • Stock mouth protectors: This is a one-size-fits-all type of mouth guard. It is inexpensive and can be bought at most sporting goods stores. However, it provides little or no protection because it can be loose.

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References
https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/mouth-guards#1

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10910-mouthguards#:~:text=Mouthguards%20are%20dental%20devices%20that,teeth%20grinding%20or%20sports%20injuries.

https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/m/mouthguards

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