Mouthguards are special protective mouth appliances that are used to protect the teeth, lips, and gums. They are most commonly used in the treatment of bruxism, different temporomandibular disorders, and in some cases can be used for teeth whitening. Sports players also use them to prevent any injuries during the games. Dental mouthguards are made of plastic or rubber and are used to reduce the pressure on teeth and prevent any damage while grinding the teeth.
Mouthguards cover the teeth, dental arches, gums, and lips. Their main role is to protect all these anatomic features. Sometimes people have the need to wear mouthguards. It can be as a part of some treatment, or to prevent injuries. People who need a mouthguard are professional and semi-professional sports players, people that are somehow exposed to injuries, people who suffer from bruxism, TMD, for teeth whitening procedures and more.
There are several types of mouthguards, and dentists decide which ones to used depending on the needs of the patient and the diagnosis.
Manufactured mouthguards come ready to use. They come in different shapes and sizes, so you can choose according to your mouth. Dentists can only do small adjustments. The “Boil and Bite” type also comes as ready, but unlike the manufactured, these can be reshaped and adapted to the patient. These mouthguards also come in various shapes and sizes. The dentist chooses which one is the best for the patient, and exposes it to heat so that it can re-shape it and adjust it properly. This really makes the process much easier. It is a thermoplastic material that once it is heated it becomes softer. This type is usually meant for professional sports players.
The custom-made type is always the best option. It is done individually for the patient, and it only fits one person. It has to be done in the dental office. During the visit, the dentist will take an impression with a dental material or use a special impression kit. It is later sent to the dental office, where a mold is created and based on that mold, the dental technician creates a mouthguard.
In dentistry, mouthguards have several uses. The first one is as a treatment option for bruxism and TMD. During bruxism, people grind their teeth, which can cause loss of dental substances and even loss of teeth. These mouthguards will lower the level of attrition between the teeth, and lower the strength of the masticatory forces. The same thing happens with the Temporomandibular Joint Disorders.
Another use is to prevent trauma during sports activities. There are many sports that often result in trauma to the mouth and tooth loss. They are worn as a preventive measure. They can’t completely protect the teeth, jaws, and gums, but they lower the chances of an injury. Tooth bleaching can be done in dental trays that are very similar to mouthguards. In orthodontics, dentists use Invisalign, which is a set of clear aligners, a type of mouthguards. Patients who suffer from sleep apnea might use mouthguards as a part of their treatment.