Mouthguards are an essential part of your uniform if you play contact sports such as football, basketball, lacrosse, or boxing. When you participate in these activities, your front teeth are at risk of breaking or getting knocked out. The soft tissue in your gums, lips, cheeks, and tongue are also at risk of injury if a mouthguard is not worn. They are also necessary if you grind your teeth while sleeping. In fact, nearly 20% of adults and one-third of children in America have bruxism—a condition which causes teeth grinding and jaw clenching. This can cause long term damage to your teeth and lead to headaches and jaw pain. If you play contact sports or grind your teeth at night, you need a mouthguard that’s right for you.
What Kind of Mouthguard Do I Need?
There are three kinds of mouthguards: stock, boil-and-bite, and custom-made. Stock mouthguards are the cheapest of the three options because they come pre-formed and ready to go. However, they are often bulky, uncomfortable, and are known to make speaking and breathing difficult. Boil-and-bite can be found at most athletic stores. These guards are also pre-formed but can be softened in boiling water. Once it is soft, you can put the guard over your top teeth and adjust the shape to fit comfortably in your mouth. At Anderson and Atkins, DDS, we recommend the custom-fit mouthguard. These guards are individually designed from a mold of your teeth. The custom-made mouthguard will provide the most comfortable fit and the best protection. In most cases, a mouthguard is only needed for your top teeth. Dr. Thomas Long, the team dentist for the Carolina Hurricanes professional hockey team and private practice dentist says, “your top teeth take the brunt of the trauma because they stick out more while your bottom teeth are a little more protected because they are further back.” If made correctly, your mouthguard will be durable without hindering your speech or breathing.
How Do I Take Care of a Mouthguard?
You will need to rinse your mouthguard before each use and brush it with toothpaste and a toothbrush after it’s worn. On a regular basis, clean your mouthguard in cool, soapy water and then rinse it completely before drying. Storing your mouthguard correctly is just as important as cleaning it regularly. Store it in a sturdy container that is ventilated. This not only keeps the guard dry, but it also prevents bacteria from growing. Keep your mouthguard away from hot temperatures either in direct sunlight or hot water. Check the guard for signs of wear and replace it immediately if it is torn, broken, or ill-fitting. Both children and adults are encouraged to bring their mouthguard to their dental visits. During your office visit, your dentist can make sure the guard is in good condition, and still fitting properly. Because children and adolescents are constantly growing, their mouth is changing shape which requires more frequent adjustments to the size and shape of their mouthguard. Your mouthguard will last for a long time if you take care of it properly.
If you have questions about whether or not you or your child need a mouthguard, contact us at Anderson and Atkins Dentistry at (979) 846-1813. Your teeth are too important to overlook this simple solution! Set up an appointment today for your custom-fit mouthguard. You can also explore our website for more information about our general dental services and client reviews.