The 411 on Mouthguards - The How, What, and Why

A mouthguard may seem like nothing more than a simple piece of plastic that fits over your teeth, but think again.


The debates over mouthguards are seemingly endless - which teeth they should cover, who should be using a mouthguard, and even arguments as to whether they work at all. A mouthguard that is effective for one use, such as a sports guard for an athlete, may be completely ineffective for relieving jaw pain. The cost for a mouthguard can vary greatly, ranging anywhere from as little as a dollar to as much as $500. There are three major purposes for mouthguards and finding the correct one starts by focusing on why you need it.




Protection During Sports


You don’t have to spend much money to get an effective mouthguard (sometimes called a sports guard) for physical activities. Most dental offices are able to make custom fit mouthguards for sports, but it isn’t always necessary. Basic mouthguards that can be purchased at a pharmacy generally work well enough to protect the mouth during sports. These are designed to be worn on the upper teeth to protect against breakage, cut lips, and other damage to the mouth. Wearing a guard on the upper teeth offers sufficient protection for sports, but those who have braces or fixed dental appliances may want to consider wearing a mouthguard on the bottom teeth as well.


This type of mouthguard should only be used for the duration of the physical activity and should be removed immediately afterwards.


Protection from Tooth Grinding and Pain Relief


Another common reason people wear a mouthguard/night guard is to protect their teeth

from the damage caused by grinding and clenching - what dentists refer to as

“bruxism.”


There are a few different guard options available for those who suffer from bruxism, ranging from a one-size-fits-all version to a lab-created custom guard. The one-size-fits-all guard may be sufficient for the occasional tooth grinder, but is not typically the best solution for those with severe grinding tendencies. In moderate to severe cases, both the fit and the type of material used for the mouthguard are very important. A mouth guard that isn’t customized for the wearer can actually make grinding worse, leading to unnecessary jaw pain, muscle aches, poor sleep, and permanent tooth damage.


How Do I Care For a Mouthguard?


Taking proper care of a mouthguard helps ensure that it lasts. First and foremost, it’s important to not chew on the mouthguard. This weakens it, making its job to protect the mouth less effective. As with any dental tool, proper care helps eliminate bacteria and prevent odors from building up. One of the most simple ways to protect your mouthguard is to wash it after every use - just scrub it with a bit of your favorite toothpaste and dry it with a clean washcloth before storing.


When a dentist makes a custom mouth guard, there are several factors that go into the cost of the piece. Creating a custom mouthguard requires impressions of your bite, measurements, and custom manufacturing. Some dentists have their own machines that can create the custom mouthguard in their office, but often times the guards must be special ordered from a dental lab. In order to get the perfect fit, it may require more than one office visit for accurate measuring and fitting.


If you would like additional information or are experiencing discomfort from bruxism, Lone Peak Dental can help you choose the best option to protect your smile. Call our office at (801)492-0402 to schedule a complimentary consultation.



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