Guard against damage and protect your family's teeth
It's great to see your children throwing themselves into sport, but when they're getting balls and opponents thrown at them, you'll want to protect their teeth with a mouth guard that's up to the job. Effective mouth protection is equally important for all you enthusiastic evening and weekend sportsmen and women too, and it's important to remember that a poorly fitting mouth guard can be just as problematic as no protection at all.
What are mouth guards?
Essentially, mouth guards are temporary, removable coverings worn over the teeth to protect them from injury, most commonly during sport. However, mouth guards may also be recommended to reduce jaw pains for anyone who grinds his / her teeth at night.
How do mouth guards prevent damage to teeth?
Used in any sport where deliberate or accidental facial impact may cause damage, mouth guards are an effective and simple way to protect teeth - many sporting clubs and schools insist on their use. In addition to protecting the teeth from damage or loss, and avoiding bites to the cheek, research suggests that mouth guards may also prevent or reduce concussion resulting from jaw injuries.
What options are available?
As you may know, there are three types of mouth guard:
1. Pre-formed and ready to wear. These inexpensive guards can be bought at most sporting goods stores and department stores. It is not possible to adjust their fit and they are bulky, making breathing and talking difficult. Ultimately the protection they provide is very limited and dentists do not recommend their use.
2. 'Boil and bite' mouth guards are also widely available and may offer a better fit. Before the first use they are placed in hot water to soften, then positioned in the mouth and shaped around the teeth using finger and tongue pressure.
3. Dentists recommend a custom-fitted mouth protector that will be individually designed and made to fit the mouth exactly. An impression of the teeth is taken and used to mould a mouth guard with a perfect fit, offering the ultimate in comfort and protection.
Generally, mouth guards cover the upper teeth only, but in some instances (such as if braces are worn, or there is a fixed dental appliance on the lower jaw), your dentist will make a mouth guard for the lower teeth too.
If you would like more information or advice on fitting mouth guards, please contact your dentist, who will be only too pleased to help.