What is a dental mouth guard?
A dental mouth guard or mouthguard fits over your teeth to offer protection from impacts and shocks that can cause teeth to wear down, chip, crack or get knocked out. They're made from a flexible but strong plastic that feels comfortable to wear, as long as it's custom made to match your bite for a perfect fit.
Our dentists in Northbridge are experienced at making custom mouth guards for:
- protection during contact sports
- teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism)
- snoring and sleep apnoea treatment
Types of mouth guards
Whether you need a mouth guard for sport or a night mouth guard for TMJ pain or sleep apnoea, there are three basic options:
Ready-to-wear mouth guard
The cheapest option, these pre-formed mouth protectors can be bought from many sports stores. While they offer some protection for teeth, their imperfect fit means they offer less protection than a fitted mouth guard and feel less comfortable to wear, especially for long periods.
Stock mouth guards may also cause difficulties with speech and breathing or may come loose on impact and get lodged in the throat, which can make them a safety hazard. Dentists don't recommend the use of pre-made mouth guards for any purpose.
Boil-and-bite mouth guard
The most common option used by children taking part in contact sports, these over-the-counter mouth guards are boiled in water and left to cool before moulding them to the shape of the wearer's bite. This can be an uncomfortable process, but it ensures a better fit than a stock mouth guard. However, the fit is still imperfect and may not offer protection for the jaw.
These mouth guards also have a shorter lifespan than a customised fit and need to be replaced more often. A boil-and-bite sports mouth guard should be replaced every season to avoid going out of shape and leaving your mouth unprotected.
Custom-fitted mouth guard
A customised fit mouth guard offers the best protection for teeth and jaws. At Sailors Bay Dentistry in Northbridge, custom mouth guards are made by our dentists to be a perfect fit for your bite, shielding your teeth from impacts and absorbing shocks to help protect your teeth, jaws and brain from concussion
A mouth guard that fits closely over your teeth will also have less of an impact on your breathing and speech than an over-the-counter mouth protector. It's also less likely to come loose.
Do I need a custom mouth guard?
Custom mouth guards cost more than over-the-counter products, but by lowering the risk of serious injuries to teeth and jaws, you could save money as well as avoid discomfort in the long run.
The Australian Dental Association (ADA) and sporting organisations recommend custom-fitted mouth protectors when playing any contact sports. A custom-made night guard may also be recommended to stop you grinding your teeth or choking at night.
To find out if you or your child could benefit from a custom dental mouth guard or night guard for teeth, call (02) 9958 0400 to talk to a North Shore dentist today.
Sports mouth guard
Sporting activities are the most common reasons for dental emergencies. As well as contact sports such as rugby, soccer, cricket and hockey, a mouth guard should also be worn during other risky activities such as cycling, skateboarding and gymnastics.
Without protection, impacts from sporting equipment, contact with other players and falls can cause serious injuries including:
- chipped or cracked teeth
- knocked-out teeth
- cuts to the lips, cheeks, tongue and other soft tissues in the mouth
- broken jaws
Wearing a custom mouth guard might not prevent all injuries, but it can significantly reduce their severity and the time it takes to recover. You could be at increased risk of injuries if you have protruding teeth or wear braces and don't wear mouth protection.
How does it work?
If you decide that a custom-fitted mouth guard is right for you or your child, we'll take an impression of your teeth that's used to create a 3D model of your mouth. We'll then mould the dental mouth guard material over this model so that it's a perfect fit for your teeth. Once your new mouth guard is ready, we'll check that it fits comfortably and explain how to take care of it.
Bruxism mouth guard
Do you grind or clench your teeth at night? This is a condition called bruxism, which can cause problems over time including:
- wearing down or cracking your teeth
- putting strain on your jaw's temporomandibular joints (TMJ pain)
- headaches, ear pain and other discomfort
If our dentists diagnose bruxism, one treatment option we might recommend is a custom-made night mouth guard, also known as a bite splint or nocturnal bite plate. Custom-made mouthguards for teeth grinding can help to protect your teeth and relieve pressure on your jaws and joints.
How does it work?
A night mouth guard for TMJ or bruxism should be worn when you go to sleep. It keeps the top and bottom teeth from coming into contact with each other, to relieve immediate bruxism and TMJ symptoms and help you to overcome the condition over time. Our dentists can create a custom dental guard for clenching that feels comfortable and won't come loose during the night.
Snoring mouth guard
A night mouth guard may also be effective for treating obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). This can occur if your airways become blocked by excess tissue, causing you to wake up choking or gasping throughout the night. Severe OSA is linked to problems including:
- morning headaches
- daytime tiredness
- problems with memory and concentration
- increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other chronic diseases
If you or someone in your family are diagnosed with sleep apnoea, we'll discuss all the treatment options that are appropriate so you can make an informed decision about what's right for you.
How does it work?
Unlike a sport or TMJ mouth guard that typically only covers the top teeth, a night mouth guard for sleep apnoea also covers the lower teeth to help push the jaw forwards and hold the airway open. For this reason, it's necessary to have your mouth guard custom-fitted by a dentist.