Have you ever been told that you need a mouthguard? Nightguard? Occlusal splint? Sports guard? With so many different types of dental mouthguards to choose from, it can seem a little overwhelming to know when you actually need one and which type to get.
Investing in the right type of mouthguard can act like a great piece of insurance in your oral health. Here are four reasons why you may need one and which type you’ll want to consider.
- If You Have TMJ Problems or Frequent Headaches
TMJ disorder (TMD) can lead to a host of musculoskeletal pain through your face, jaws, neck, shoulders, and back. If you’re waking up in the mornings with headaches or constant pain, your body may not know how to naturally relax your TMJ on its own. To help train the joint to rest in a relaxed state, consider wearing a bite splint. The splint itself will prevent your TMJ from fully engaging or contracting, since your teeth can’t completely clench together.
Depending on when you have TMJ flare ups, a smaller splint or full mouthguard can be helpful. Some people wear them during the day while they’re focusing on work projects or driving, while others need them more at night while they’re sleeping. Bite splints are a non-surgical, non-invasive way to help prevent and control TMJ pain.
- If You’re Involved in Athletic Activities
A high percentage of sporting related injuries occur in the mouth and face areas. That means busted lips, knocked out or broken teeth, and even concussions. But wearing a professionally fitted athletic mouthguard can guard you against each of these emergencies and lessen the extent of your injury.
Athletic mouthguards are typically thicker and customized to your color preferences (like to match your team jersey’s colors). The snugger and more comfortable the fit is, the easier it will be to stay focused on the game, hydrate, and communicate with your teammates without feeling tempted to take it out. And yes, a professional mouthguard can potentially even reduce your chances of a concussion, due to the way it safeguards your jaw.
- If You Clench or Grind Your Teeth a Lot
Bruxism — that’s the term we use to describe chronic teeth clenching and grinding — is typically a subconscious habit. People tend to brux when they’re focusing, stressed out, or even if they have sleep apnea. When your mouth is at rest, your lips should be touching but your teeth should be slightly apart. But people who clench and grind always seem to have their teeth closed against one another.
Even though tooth enamel is the hardest thing in your body, it can’t stand up against chronic clenching and teeth grinding. Over time, all of that excessive wear will cause your teeth to flatten, chip, or break the dental work that’s on them. A mouthguard can help your smile last as long as possible.
- You’ve Just Invested in a Smile Makeover
Did you recently get a new set of porcelain dental veneers or ceramic crowns? Although crafted from durable materials, they’re not invincible. And if one breaks, the entire restoration has to be changed out (you can’t patch it over with bonding.) So, to protect your investment and help it last as long as possible, you’ll want to be sure to sleep in a protective mouthguard every night. It’s better for the guard to wear out than it is to accidentally chip off a sliver of porcelain on one of your new veneers.
What About Over-the-Counter Mouthguards?
Stock mouthguard or “boil and bite” appliances sold in stores provide a small amount of protection, but not near that of a custom fitted mouthpiece. The bulkier fit is less comfortable to wear, meaning you’re more likely to take it out. But the looser fit also means more shifting and wiggling, making it much more likely to fall out when you need protection the most (like during an athletic injury.) That means it could fall out when you need it most, failing to protect you at all.
The slightly higher price of a professionally fitted mouthpiece will provide you with the highest level of protection, comfort, and peace of mind. It might even be covered by your dental insurance plan.
Protecting Smiles for Years to Come
Ready to have a custom mouthguard made for yourself, your teen, or an active child athlete in your family? Call Eastport Dental today to reserve a short appointment in our Mesa dentist’s office. All it takes to get started is a quick impression of your teeth!