For the most part, dental apparatuses have one particular use: Braces are used to align and straighten teeth. Crowns are used to cover up damage and decay. Mouth guards? They’re an exception. They can be used for all kinds of different things – though you do want different mouth guards for different issues.
Essentially, all mouth guards have one thing in common – namely, that they guard your mouth. Sometimes, you’re guarding your mouth from injury because you play a contact sport. Other times, you’re guarding against bruxism, more commonly known as teeth grinding. There are even mouth guards designed to assist with sleep apnea and TMD. So where do you get mouth guards, and which ones are best?
The first type of mouth guards we’ll look at are stock or ready-made guards. These guards are…not great. They’re not fitted to your mouth, and customizing how they fit is incredibly difficult. The biggest advantages to ready-made guards is that they’re quite inexpensive and readily available, so if you’re about to play contact sports and you don’t have a mouth guard, you can pick one up. They should not be used as night guards (to prevent grinding) – in fact, they can actually cause a number of alignment problems when overused.
The next best type of mouth guard can be found in the form of over-the-counter “boil and bite” guards. These guards fit your mouth quite a bit better than their ready-made cousins, though you do need enough time to boil them. They’ll protect your teeth fairly well (though be careful not to scald yourself). They aren’t the most comfortable guards on the planet, however.
Finally, we come to custom-made mouth guards. Unsurprisingly, these are the most expensive of the bunch, as your dentist will carefully measure your mouth using hyper precise electronic tools or by making an exact impression of your mouth. Equally unsurprisingly, these are the most comfortable and effective mouth guards. When you’re getting a guard for bruxism or other oral health conditions, custom guards are the way to go because you’ll be wearing them for long periods of time. You might have your guard in your mouth every night for months, so it’s a good idea to make sure it’s very comfortable.
In fact, any time you plan on using a mouth guard for non-sports-related oral health conditions, it’s in your best interest to talk to your dentist first. Oral health is very complicated, and a mouth guard might not be the best solution for your TMD, bruxism, or other conditions. A full consultation with your dentist will help you uncover the root of your problems and the best solutions for them.
Curious about whether or not a mouth guard is something you need? Our dental office in Winnipeg can help; give us a call. We’ll do a full consultation and recommend the best treatment for your needs.