Mouth Guards

The term “mouth guard” refers to a dental appliance worn over your teeth to protect the teeth or to prevent certain actions such as teeth grinding. Mouth guards usually fit over the upper teeth, although some are worn over the lower teeth as well. While you can get some types of guards, including sports or athletic mouth guards, over the counter, these are bulky and do not fit well. At I Smile Dental Studio, we create custom-designed mouth guards to fit snugly over your teeth for maximum comfort and effectiveness.

Sports Guard/Athletic Mouth Guards

While participating in sports is a great way for your child to develop physically and emotionally, the risk to their mouth is very real. During athletics, your child could fall, be hit by balls, hockey sticks, or other equipment, or be injured during a collision with another player. A sports guard or athletic mouth guard protects the teeth and jaw from damage during sports or other activities that could lead to damaged or knocked-out teeth.

Sports guards have several benefits, including:

  • Protecting teeth from cracks, chips, and breakage.
  • It prevents teeth from being knocked out.
  • Protects the soft tissues from lacerations and damage to the nerves and blood vessels
  • Minimizing the risk of jaw fracture
  • Preventing concussions

The Advantage of Custom Mouth Guards

Several types of sports mouth guards are available, although dentists and oral surgeons prefer patients to wear custom-fitted mouth guards for optimal protection. Over-the-counter athletic mouth guards can be purchased at pharmacies and most sporting goods stores. Some are one-size-fits-all, and others can be heated in boiling water and molded over the teeth. However, they are bulky, do not fit snugly, and are not as effective as custom sports guards.

If you or your child have braces, a custom-crafted mouth guard is essential, as it is fitted to protect the brackets. Custom guards are far more comfortable, less bulky, and last longer than store-bought or generic guards. At I Smile Dental Studio, we take detailed impressions of the teeth to create customized sports guards that fit snugly over the teeth to protect the teeth and gums more fully.

Night Guards for Bruxism and Teeth Grinding

Bruxism is a fancy term for nighttime teeth grinding. If you grind or clench your teeth at night, you are wearing down your teeth prematurely and may shift your teeth out of alignment. Although teeth grinding or clenching at night cannot be cured, a night guard, sometimes called an occlusal guard, can minimize the effects of bruxism to protect your teeth and avoid problems with your bite.

A night guard can also relieve common symptoms of bruxism, such as morning headaches and jaw pain. Many patients get a better night’s sleep when wearing a night guard because the jaw muscles are more relaxed, and there is no pressure on the temporomandibular joint from grinding or clenching.

Benefits of a Night Guard

The benefits of wearing a night guard to prevent teeth grinding or clenching are numerous, including:

  • Protects against excessive wearing of the teeth
  • Prevents excessive gum recession
  • It keeps you from breaking or cracking teeth due to grinding or clenching
  • Improves sleep
  • Prevents morning headaches and jaw pain

Do Night Guards Help with TMJ Disorder?

TMJ Disorder is related to abnormal stress on the temporomandibular joint. While it is often associated with bruxism or teeth grinding, there are many causes of TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder). For some patients, a mouth guard that minimizes teeth clenching or grinding can also relieve tension in and around the TMJ. It can also alleviate TMJ pain caused by misalignment of the joints on either side of the jaw. With a custom mouth guard, not only is bruxism prevented, but the teeth are aligned properly for a comfortable, natural bite.

If the cause of TMD is not bruxism, a night guard may not be effective. Sometimes the temporomandibular joint is damaged due to connective tissue problems, deterioration of the joints’ discs, osteoarthritis, jaw injury, or genetics. In these situations, a night guard may not be the most effective treatment.

Why You Should Not Wear a Sports Guard as a Night Guard

It is important to understand that a sports guard is designed to protect the interior of your mouth, including the teeth, gums, and cheeks, during contact sports or other activities that could lead to facial or jaw injuries. A sports guard covers the teeth and gums fully. They are meant to be worn only when you are awake and involved in specific activities for short periods.
Sleeping in an athletic mouth guard irritates the gums and can be painful. Bacteria collects along the gum line and is trapped while you sleep.

Night guards are designed to cover only the biting surfaces of the teeth to prevent clenching or grinding. They do not trap bacteria against the gums, do not irritate the gums, and allow the soft tissues to breathe while you are sleeping.

For greater effectiveness, comfort, and safety, you should always choose a custom mouth guard. At I Smile Dental Studio, we can determine the best style of mouth guard for your dental care needs and custom design yours for a perfect fit. Contact our Hartford Office at Hartford Office Phone Number 860-247-1021 or our Enfield Office at Enfield Office Phone Number 860-749-0212 to schedule a consultation.