What are mouthguards and why should I consider using them?
Mouthguards are protective devices that are used to cover the teeth and gums to prevent or reduce injury. Mouthguards are most often used by patients to protect their teeth during contact sports, as an adjunct in bruxism treatment, or as part of certain dental procedures. Mouthguards are used primarily to prevent dental trauma, especially in sports, where any type of impact to the face and jaw may cause potential harm to the patient’s teeth. In dentistry, mouthguards have been indicated in the past to be used as oral splints that reduce the strain and pressure in patients with TMJ disorders. Other uses in dentistry include the prevention of friction in patients with bruxism, delivery system of topical medication for conditions such as chronic gingivitis, and a therapeutic adjunct to the treatment of morsicatio buccarum, or chronic cheek biting. When used in dental procedures, mouthguards are used by dentists during bleaching procedures and as night protectors for the patients that have porcelain bridges.
What are the types of mouthguards that can be used?
Depending on the condition, several types of mouthguards are available for use by the patient. First are the Stock or store ready mouthguards that are mass manufactured in preformed shapes that come in different sizes and intended to fill the patient’s mouth. The fifth of these mouthguards are not very good because hardly any adjustments can be made except minor ones by trimming with scissors, or a knife.
Boil and bite mouthguards are also available commercially and are made of thermoplastic materials that can be adapted to fit the individual’s teeth and gums by the application of heat, to make the material easier to mold, and then placing it in the mouth for the proper adjustment.
Custom-made mouthguards are those that are obtained from the dentist’s office and are made by fabricating a personalized mouthguards using an actual impression of the patient’s teeth. These are, obviously, the most ideal mouthguards to use because they are tailor fit to meet every patient’s specific requirement. Custom-made mouthguards are manufactured using two techniques, one being the vacuum form where a specialized machine produces mouth guards with only a single layer. Pressure laminated mouthguards are custom-made mouthguards that are produced with multiple layers that offer a better fit, comfort, and significantly more protection.