Understanding Different Mouth Guards - Smile Dental Center

colorful mouthguardsIf you grind your teeth or play a contact sport, your dentist may recommend a mouth guard. This oral device covers part of the teeth, typically the upper portion, but those with braces may need an additional guard for the lower teeth.

Beyond protecting your teeth, gums and cheeks from impacts that could result in cracks, chips and cuts, mouth guards should feel comfortable, stay in place during use and allow you to breathe and speak comfortably. They should be cleaned regularly and inspected for any damage that could compromise effectiveness.

For the treatment of bruxism or teeth grinding, a mouth guard for night use may be part of your plan. Considering the various purposes, mouth guards include the following types.

Ready-to-Use Mouth Guards

Also called stock mouth guards, these are intended for use right out of the package. Their shape cannot be adjusted, so the one-size-fits-most design does not provide reliable impact protection. For some people, these mouth guards can affect normal breathing and speech.

Boil-and-Bite Mouth Guards

This design offers a slightly more custom fit. Made from moldable thermoplastic, a bite-and-boil mouth guard is placed in hot water before use to soften the material.

You then put it in your mouth, shape it to your teeth using your fingers and tongue, bite down for about 20 seconds, then hold it under cool water to solidify the shape. This process can be repeated for a closer, more custom fit.

Custom Mouth Guards

At the dentist’s office, an impression of your teeth can be created for a custom mouth guard. The impression is used to create a mold that will become a mouth guard, providing a greater level of protection against trauma due to its more exact fit.

Along with helping athletes, custom mouth guards may be recommended for certain dental conditions, including:

  • A nocturnal bite plate or nightguard may be recommended for patients who grind their teeth while sleeping. Worn at night, this type of mouthguard helps protect against wear and tear on your teeth, potential fractures and gum inflammation.
  • TMJ splints help patients better manage pain and discomfort related to temporomandibular joint disorder.
  • Occlusal splints are designed to protect teeth and dental restorations. Also known as bite splints or bite planes, these devices may be created to manage headaches and neck pain related to jaw issues or stabilize a patient’s bite prior to a dental procedure.
  • Anterior deprogrammers help relax the jaw muscles and include multiple subtypes. A Nociception Trigeminal Inhibitor (NTI) is worn over the front two teeth to limit contact with the back teeth and lessen tension headaches, teeth grinding and TMJ. Bruxism splits are a daytime solution to further reduce teeth grinding. Kois deprogrammers help lessen the effects of tooth and jaw-related muscle tension.

If you need a custom mouthguard to play a sport or manage teeth grinding, contact our Shelton office today.