Protecting your permanent teeth involves a multifaceted approach. Most people know that excellent oral hygiene is a key factor to keeping a healthy smile, but some dental concerns are out of your control. If you or your child have ever played sports, you are probably aware of using a sports mouthguard to protect your teeth and the surrounding tissue. Others may be familiar with night guards for those that grind their teeth, which have the goal of safeguarding enamel from damage. Although you may think that athletic mouthguards and nightguards can be used interchangeably, several significant differences make each oral appliance unique to its purpose.

Prevent Impact Damage With Athletic Sports Guards

When patients participate in sports, dentists recommend a mouthguard to reduce the chance of damaging the teeth. Some athletic mouthguards are general-fit and are made of a thick silicone or rubber material. Other types are customized to guard the teeth with a more exact fit. Learning more about what constitutes a mouthguard for athletic purposes can clarify why they are not appropriate for nighttime wear.

Types of Sports Mouthguards

When you need to protect your teeth from potential damage while playing sports, you have a few sports mouthguards options to meet your needs. The differences stem from the type of sport you are playing and the current state of your teeth.

  • One-size-fits-most, or stock guard. This type of guard is usually thick and comes in child and adult sizes. They can be cut to size, which means the appliance should fit a variety of mouth sizes. These are the most generic and often the most uncomfortable type of athletic mouthguard but can easily be found at sporting goods stores. Over the counter mouthguards are usually the least expensive sports guards for teeth.
  • Moldable guard. Another option that can be purchased without assistance from a dentist is a moldable guard. This type of protection fits the shape of your teeth and mouth more closely than stock mouthguards by using a material that softens when boiled. After boiling, you can use your fingers and tongue to mold the material around your teeth while it is still soft. Once it fully cools, it hardens into a shape that is closer to your actual teeth.
  • Customized mouthguard. Your dentist can measure and order a customized guard for sports purposes. These are better-fitting and more comfortable than ones found in stores or sold through athletic associations. They are less likely to rub against the gums and other soft tissues and are less irritating. If you clean your custom appliance well and properly take care of it, it can last multiple seasons.
  • Sports mouthguard for braces. An athlete with braces has a unique challenge because the teeth guard needs to protect the teeth from damage and protect the inner lip from injury. The brackets and wires can cut or injure soft tissues of the mouth during a sports event or practice, making the use of a sports mouthguard essential for those with braces. Typically, these guards include protection for both the upper and lower teeth to avoid damaging the orthodontia and injuring mouth and gum tissue.

When to Use Athletic Mouthguards

When considering a sports mouthguard, most athletes associate it with a contact sport. Both youth and adult sports with heavy physical contact may require tooth protection as part of the uniform. Some sports recommend using a teeth guard, but people can decide if they want to take the risk. Football, basketball, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, and boxing are all contact sports with a higher risk of tooth injury. Some other sports, such as ice skating, are not contact sports but are still a tooth injury risk due to the high rate of falls.

Reduce The Effects of Grinding With Night Mouthguards

Although all types of mouthguards aim to protect the teeth and gums, there are design differences between one that is meant for athletics and one that is intended for sleep. The condition of your enamel makes a difference in your long-term oral health, so if it becomes worn down prematurely, you can become more susceptible to tooth damage. Your dentist can help determine if you need one of the available protective products to wear during sleep.

Signs of Nighttime Grinding and Clenching

It’s possible you will not know you grind your teeth at night until your dentist notices it during a routine appointment. There are some common signs of teeth grinding or bruxism that can help you determine if a nightguard is in your future. You may not experience all of these symptoms. Some can be attributed to other conditions, so if you suspect you may have developed a teeth grinding problem, it’s important to contact your dentist for analysis and treatment.

  • Morning headaches
  • Pain in the jaw
  • Waking multiple times during the night
  • Worn down tooth enamel
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Tight jaw muscles

Night Mouthguard Design

Since a sports mouthguard and night guard cannot be used interchangeably, it is important to note the differences between the designs. Although there are night guards that can be purchased over-the-counter, most dentists do not recommend them. If your night guard has not been customized to fit the specifics of your mouth, it can slip during the night or make it difficult to sleep. Your dentist makes an impression used to make a custom night guard. The material is comfortable and pliable, preventing the teeth from grinding but allowing your mouth to settle into a comfortable position. Sleeping in a sports mouthguard may be uncomfortable at best and dangerous at the worst.

Set Up a Mouthguard Consultation

If you already have a night guard for teeth grinding or a day guard for sports and wonder if they can be used interchangeably, your dentist can walk you through the key differences why they should be used for the specific intended purpose. To schedule a consultation for a professional, custom mouthguard in Houston, TX. Contact Ingenious Dentistry for more information. You can also reach out by calling (713) 795-5905.

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