Dental health mouth guard covers the teeth and they are used to protect teeth from injury in children and adults during contact sport like football, boxing, and ice hockey but also in recreational activities like mountain biking and skateboarding. Mouth-related injuries of the tongue, lips and soft tissues of the mouth can also be prevented.
Mouth guard covers can also be used in children and adults who grind their teeth at night to prevent tooth damage.
An effective mouth guard should be comfortable, durable and easy to clean, and should not restrict breathing or speech.
There are three types of mouth guards:
- Stock mouth protectors can be bought at most sporting good stores and they are inexpensive but they can make breathing and talking difficult and cannot be adjusted to fit, so they provide very little or no protection. Dentists do not recommend their use.
- Boil and bite mouth protectors also can be bought at most sporting good stores but they are made from thermoplastic material so in hot water they become soft and when placed in the mouth they can be shaped around the teeth by finger and tongue pressure.
- Custom-fitted mouth protectors are made in a dental office by the impression of person’s teeth made by a dentist so they are more expensive but provide the best protection and comfort.
Usually, mouth guards cover only upper teeth, but if a person wears braces of fixed bridge work a dentist will make a mouth guard for the lower teeth as well. If a person grinds teeth at night, the dentist can make a special mouth guard-type of dental appliance called a nocturnal bite plate or bite splint to prevent tooth damage.
A mouth guard must be cleaned before using with a mouth rise and after with toothbrush and toothpaste, stored in a firm, perforated container that permits air circulation and prevents damage. Also, the mouth guard must be protected from high temperatures (hot surfaces and water, direct sunlight) and regularly checked by the patient’s dentist.