Guarding for protection

Guarding for protection

A mouth guard is an effective device to protect teeth

Mouth guards are a common choice for people who need to protect their teeth, gums and lips for various reasons. A person may need a ]guard for a number of situations, such as when participating in contact sports or to protect teeth while sleeping from problems like teeth grinding or snoring. While both a sports guard and a teeth grinding or snoring night guard are protective devices, they are used in very different settings and have some distinctive characteristics.

For people playing contact sport, a mouth guard is an important protective device as it prevents fractures or trauma to the teeth in the event of the individual receiving impact to the face. Anyone playing a contact sport can benefit from wearing a mouth guard, no matter what their age. I’ve built mouth guards for children from the age of four through to adult patients. In fact, it’s not just contact sports where a mouth guard is a smart decision. In sports like tennis and squash, a swinging racquet can be a real threat. It’s particularly important to cover and protect the front teeth when playing any sport or exercise where there is the potential to be hit in the face, and a mouth guard effectively delivers this protection.

The aim of the night mouth guard is to protect the teeth when a person is asleep. While there isn’t any activity taking place or external threat, for some people there can be often unconscious behaviours that impact the teeth, such as teeth grinding and snoring. The snoring mouth guard and teeth grinding mouth guard is made from different materials than the sports mouth guard and is not as thick as the sports version but still strong enough to serve its purpose. The night mouth guard acts as a protective device against teeth grinding and the irreversible damage over the long term if someone is grinding their teeth down shorter and shorter. Some patients aren’t aware that they are grinding their teeth at night, but as dental professionals we can detect this based on the clinical examination and clinical features of the teeth. That’s why it’s important when examining patients’ teeth that we check the chewing and top surface of the teeth. If there are any signs of the enamel wearing down, then that’s the time to advise the patient they need a night guard to preserve the tooth tissue. I also tell my patients, “If you don’t know whether you’re a grinder, just ask your partner – they’ll definitely know if you are!”

It’s essential that a guard is designed and custom made for the individual because we all have a different arrangement of teeth. Some mouth guards are available off-the-shelf, but these don’t fit the teeth perfectly because they haven’t been designed for the individual. When we custom build a mouth guard we take molds and impressions of the patient’s teeth and then the mouth guard is made specifically for the individual based on the model. This ensures the custom-made mouth guard is a perfect fit and much more comfortable for the individual than an off-the-shelf product.

As a preventive measure a guard, whether it’s a sports, snoring or teeth grinding mouth guard, is a smart choice. It costs much less then the expenses incurred if dental repair work such as a crown or veneer is needed for broken teeth, and you just can’t put a price on having your full set of natural teeth. This awareness is certainly increasing among patients and the interest in mouth guards is growing.

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