Mouthguards are highly recommended and should be used by anyone participating in a contact sport: football; boxing; soccer; ice hockey; basketball; lacrosse; or field hockey. It applies to both children and adults when there is a risk of injury to the teeth or mouth. The benefit from using a protective mouthguard will far outweigh any discomfort or awkwardness. Indeed, even one prevented injury or wound will make a mouthguard investment well worthwhile.
Beyond the contact sports, coaches and dental professionals will recommend using a mouthguard during non-contact sports like gymnastics, skateboarding, or mountain biking. The fact is, accidents and mishaps do happen, and the potential during a highly physical activity is increased. The benefit of a mouthguard is protection – it protects everything inside the mouth – the teeth, lips, tongue, and soft tissue. And even with an injury, damage is significantly reduced.
The risk of experiencing a mouth-related injury or tooth-related damage isn’t worth it. Amongst other things, a mouthguard can easily prevent a chipped tooth, a broken tooth, even a lost tooth. And the options are numerous – you can choose a standard, pre-formed mouthguard that just slips into the mouth, without any adjustment, or you can choose a more customized mouthguard that fits tightly around the teeth and gums after heating. Needless to say, the custom approach provides more comfort.
For the best overall fit, comfort and protection, a dentist can create a mouthguard that is totally customized. An exact impression of the teeth and gums is made, sent of to a special laboratory, and manufactured into a final appliance. These appliances are industry endorsed and provide the very best protection.
Nightguards are somewhat different than mouthguards, both in purpose and design. For children and adults who are prone to grinding their teeth throughout the night, the dentist may recommend a specific nightguard appliance that is designed for the purpose of preventing damage to the teeth. Depending on the dental application, the nightguard might be a bite splint or bite plane. Either way, these appliances are custom fit and molded by the dentist to perfectly suit the upper or lower teeth.
Depending on a patient’s complications, a nightguard appliance might be prescribed. For bruxism (tooth grinding), a nightguard protects the surface of the teeth; for a jaw-muscle dysfunction (sometimes called TMD), a nightguard provides relief from pain and discomfort; and for issues related to the jaw joints, a nightguard serves to better stabilize the area. In any event, these are all dental health conditions that are best diagnosed and treated by an experienced dental professional.
The most important aspect of caring for mouth and teeth is personal responsibility – and that includes prevention and protection. Daily, routine maintenance is essential for dental health; risk prevention is key to avoiding unnecessary injury; and regular checkups are important in diagnosing and treating. We often forget that dental health is as important as general health. That’s why a team of dental professionals makes so much sense – they remedy short-term issues to avoid long-term problems.