What is a mouth guard?
Mouth guards are made of a special absorbent material to protect your teeth and gums from injury during sporting activities: they can also be called ‘gum shields’, ‘mouth protectors’ and ‘teeth guards’ depending on where you live.
They usually cover your entire upper teeth and gums and need to be properly fitted so they don’t move when you’re active, or interfere with breathing.
They are not to be confused with occlusal splints or night guards which are used to treat grinding or bruxism: these guards are made of a much more solid material.
Why choose Dr Workman to look after you?
Not only is Dr Workman a very good dentist, he has genuine caring nature and always makes sure you feel truly looked after. This is why he has such a loyal following of, families, young professionals right through to our older generation. With over 12 years experience, he is young, passionate, great at what he does and has an excellent aesthetic eye. If you would like a dental professional you can really trust, who places your health, happiness and comfort as an absolute priority, then you would be hard pushed to look any further. If you have typed ‘dentist near me’ then our state of the art Maroubra dental practice won’t be far away.
Why wear a mouth guard?
Every single year, hundreds of children and adults from all around the country are treated for dental injuries that could have been prevented or at least minimised… through wearing a properly fitted dentist mouth guard.
Injuries to the teeth and gums are often not only complex and expensive but they lead to a lifetime of problems and further treatment.
I find it crazy that some parents and adults won’t spend $200 on a decent dentist mouthguard, when one injury could lead to many thousands of dollars worth of treatment.
How do mouthguard work?
They actually perform a number of functions: they protect the teeth directly from a blow, from fists, knees, elbows, balls, sticks and other sporting equipment.
Direct damage to the teeth such as chipping, cracking, fracturing or getting them ‘knocked out’ is greatly reduced.
They shield your lips and prevent damage from your teeth or braces; they cushion between your teeth to stop them from smashing into each other, plus the absorbent material helps limit the shock that’s transmitted up towards the head, thus lessening the risk of a concussion or a fractured jaw.
Guards need to be properly fitted and balanced in the bite.
You only get one set of adult teeth… it is simply not worth the risk: if your front teeth get damaged, it is a long and expensive road; things will never be the same no matter how good the dentist.
If you had a blow to the mouth, the exact procedure would depend on your age and the damage the impact caused: it may need a filling, root canal and crown or even an extraction; it could affect one tooth or many teeth… it’s simply not worth the risk!
The more ‘contact’ your sport involves, the more chance of you having an accident, but even those sports you classically don’t tend to think of – like basketball – are important to consider: it only takes an elbow and there is no going back.
What about mouthguards for people who wear braces?
If you wear braces and are continuing to play sport, it’s really vital you get a mouthguard – Dr Jamie can help get one that will fit you well for the best part of a season, depending on the amount of movement the teeth are experiencing.
At very least, get a boil and bite – even though it’s not as good – if you get a blow to the face it’s something to protect your teeth and lips from getting shredded on the wires and metals.
If you have crowns, bridges, veneers or implants, again ‘protect your investment’. Get a decent dentist made mouthguard.
Anything that’s removable (e.g. an orthodontic appliance) should be taken out beforehand.
When should you wear a mouth guard?
You should be wearing your mouthguard in every single game and practice session: you can easily take a knock- deliberate or accidental, at any time.
Whilst more likely in some sports than others, you just never know: it’s simply not worth the risk.
“I treat a few children and adults each year who have a mouthguard… but it was in their sock or bag and ‘not’ in their mouth when they got hit.” [Dr Jamie}
Speak to those individuals: they are now the ultimate ambassadors for mouthguards. Not all sports make it obligatory to wear a mouthguard. It is compulsory in rugby, hockey, MMA, boxing and a few others… but that doesn’t matter… if there is a risk then get one, and ‘wear it’.
What types of mouthguards are out there?
There are 3 basic types: ‘stock’ (ready-made), ‘boil and bite’ and ‘custom-fit’.
Stock mouthguards and ‘boil and bite’ guards can be easily bought at your local sports store: Rebel, department stores or online via various websites.
Stock mouthguards come in various sizes and you choose one that will approximately fit your mouth.
If you ask Dr Jamie for a comment on these types of guards… he probably wouldn’t give you one… just roll his eyes. “They are barely better than nothing”.
Next you have ‘boil and bite’ guards, which you heat in boiling water and mould to your teeth.
This is better than nothing, but they aren’t that great. For small children and ‘last minute’ situations, they may be necessary but don’t be fooled by the fancy packaging.
When you bite down, the thickness in the biting part of the mouthguard, that which affords a large amount of the protection in studies is reduced to around 1mm – not much protection there.
Plus they don’t adapt too closely, may hinder your breathing or move around and as such you are more likely to take them out more frequently – which means there is a greater chance of an accident happening.
They still don’t come close to a professionally made mouthguard, and whether it is Dr Jamie or another dentist, it doesn’t really matter, the key it is professionally custom made to an appropriate thickness for the sport you play.
There are some companies that manufacturer custom mouth guards: take impressions at your club or school or that you can pop and visit, – these are all fine too.
Dental prosthetists will make you a great mouthguard as well… so, plenty of options in and around Maroubra.
How thick should your mouthguard be?
The type of sport you play influences the potential force of the various impacts you might receive: this is what determines the thickness and level of protection required.
It will also depend if you are an adult or a child, and the level of competition you compete at.
Here is a quick list for reference:
Thick: boxing, any type of martial art, hockey, lacrosse, American football, rugby, Australian Rules football.
Standard: football, netball, skating and skateboarding, snowboarding and skiing, basketball, baseball.
When choosing a mouth guard it is important it does the following:
Doesn’t affect speech, swallowing, or breathing
Fits tightly and grips well – you should need to tug it to take it out.
The only mouthguards that will do this are custom made: by a dental professional taking an impression of your teeth and gums.
How should you care for your mouth guard?
Here are a few tips to make sure that you take the best care of both your mouth and your mouth guard:
• Always wear it- don’t take it out unless necessary and don’t put it in your sock or bag.
• Wash your mouthguard thoroughly in cold water after every use and then leave it out to dry- don’t put it straight in the case – it will soon start to go mouldy.
• Store your mouth guard in a proper sturdy, perforated plastic case to prevent damage. If it isn’t sealed, again it could soon start to go mouldy.
• Do not leave your mouth guard in the sun or in other hot environments or on hot surfaces, as it will distort.
• Replace your mouthguard routinely every couple of years, or if the fit is not secure anymore, or your teeth change, or you notice damage or wear on the guard. You should also replace it after a significant impact, as much of its absorbing qualities will have been damaged.
If you’re unsure whether your mouthguard is up to the job, bring it in to see Dr Jamie and he’ll check it out.
|Treatment time||2 appointments – 15 minutes for impressions. 1 week to make 15 mins to fit|
- Dr Jamie’s education site; Jamiethedentist.com where you can hear him speak and read about TOPIC in a lot more detail.
- These other excellent resources: