Many sports require a lot of gear. One piece of equipment that’s easy to forget but important to use is the mouth guard. This small, inexpensive item is one of the most important pieces of gear to buy for yourself or your child before participating in a variety of sports. As you prepare to jump into a new season, it’s important to not only purchase a mouth guard, but to also get the right one that fits and protects your unique mouth the most. Here, Flintlock Dental will look at why you need a mouth guard and how to ensure that you get the right one for you or your child.
Protect Against Tooth Displacement and Breakage
Wearing a mouth guard is essential for several sports for good reason. When games include a lot of contact, getting hit in the face and mouth area will eventually happen. Wearing a mouth guard can stop a tooth from getting fractured or loosened, and can even help prevent teeth from being knocked out completely.
Protect Against Jaw Fractures
When your face takes a hard hit in just the right way, it can easily fracture your jaw. Wearing a correctly fitting mouth guard helps prevent this type of major injury from happening. A mouth guard will cushion the blow to the jaw area if you happen to get hit by a ball or an elbow.
Protect Against Soft Tissue Damage
As you play your sport of choice, you’re probably not often concerned with what your mouth is doing, but if you sustain a hit to the head, you can accidentally bite down on your tongue or the inside of your gums. Wearing a protective mouth guard will stop accidental bites like this from happening.
Protect Against Grinding Teeth
Grinding your teeth might not seem like a big deal, but over time it can cause your jaw to start popping and lead to some aches and pains and even serious migraines. It will also start to wear your teeth down, causing irreparable damage. People often grind their teeth while sleeping or when under stress, including when they’re playing an important game. Wearing a mouth guard at night while you sleep will help you stop grinding your teeth and prevent these other issues from forming. Try wearing a mouth guard at night to see if your headaches lessen or you jaw stops popping.
Different Types of Mouth Guards
Now that you know why mouth guards are important and how they prevent many issues, let’s take a look at some of the different types of mouth guards available. There are three main types of mouth guards to choose from:
Stock Protectors - These are the most inexpensive type of mouth guards and are commonly found at sporting goods stores and local drugstores. They typically require your jaw to shut down around them and are often loose fitting and hard to keep in correctly. Since they’re designed to fit the majority of mouths, they won’t be as attuned to your teeth and jaw as a custom fit mouth guard.
Boil and Bite - This type of mouth guard is also found in most sporting goods and drugstores. They’re made from a type of thermoplastic. First you boil the mouthguard in hot water and then place it in your mouth to shape it around your teeth for a tighter fit. Boil and bite guards cost a bit more than stock guards, but are more effective at their job.
Custom Fit - To find this type of mouth guard, you’ll have to take a visit to your dentist. These guards are custom fit to the shape of your teeth and size of your mouth. Wearing one of these guards will give you the most protection and a very comfortable and proper fit, but it will be a bit pricier. If you’re serious about your sport and want the most protection and comfort, a custom fit mouth guard is definitely the way to go.
Your day-to-day dental health is up to you. It starts with the everyday hygiene of brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing regularly. If you keep up with your annual visits and daily care, you’ll end up with stronger, healthier teeth and gums. This is the first step in keeping your teeth safe. With these strong healthy teeth, you should consider adding a good mouth guard to your sports gear or sleep routine to provide that extra layer of protection for keeping those teeth safe. Talk to your dentist on your next visit for advice on which mouth guard is right for you!