Put a Suit of Armor Around Your Smile with Dental Mouthguards and Nightguards
With all the time and effort you invest in brushing, flossing, and caring for your teeth with regular dental checkups and professional cleanings, you’re certainly going to want to protect your smile against accidents and damage. Depending on your lifestyle and your current state of dental health, your dentist may recommend a dental mouthguard, a dental nightguard, or perhaps both, in order to properly protect your teeth.
Look around you right now. How many safety devices and protective measures can you see just in your immediate vicinity? Perhaps you’re in a room with smoke detectors or wall outlet covers to prevent fires and electric shocks. Or if you’re a passenger in a car, you are likely wearing a seatbelt and surrounded by safety glass and airbags for protection in the event of an accident. There are countless types of protective equipment we use all the time to guard against injury, including bike helmets, safety shoes, life jackets, and many others. However, not everyone takes the necessary precautions to protect their teeth from damage or injury.
Although our teeth are made of very hard and strong materials, they can still become damaged by a sudden or unexpected impact. Rapid contact with a hard surface, such as falling on pavement or being struck in the face with an object, can cause chips, cracks, or breaks in one or more teeth. Blunt force impacts that are spread out over a larger area can cause multiple teeth to become loose or even knocked out. If the impact is severe enough, it can cause broken bones in the jaw, lacerations in the mouth, and other types of tissue damage. These are all serious injuries that can effectively be minimized and prevented through the use of the right protective equipment.
Keeping your teeth protected from damage is actually quite easy, and simply requires you to wear a properly-fitted mouthguard during certain types of activities that come with potential risks of physical impact. These include a wide range of sports and physical activities, such as hockey, football, martial arts, gymnastics, soccer, and many more. Let’s take a close look at dental mouthguards, and discover what makes them capable of protecting teeth against these types of impacts.
What Exactly Is a Dental Mouthguard?
Dental mouthguards are firm, arch-shaped supports that snugly cover the top and bottom teeth to provide protection and reinforcement for the teeth against impacts. The materials used in the creation of dental mouthguards are special impact-absorbing polymers and plastic composites that can be molded and shaped to create a precise fit over the teeth. Each mouthguard is customized for the unique shape and orientation of the person’s teeth in order to provide the optimum level of stability and impact resistance.
Without a mouthguard, all the energy of a sudden impact is focused on a small area, leading to damage or trauma to the teeth in that area. Dental mouthguards are engineered to absorb the energy of an impact, weakening its total force and evenly distributing the pressure across the entire top and bottom jaw, instead of concentrating it on one area. This means that by wearing a dental mouthguard, the potential risks of incurring any harm to the mouth from an impact are dramatically reduced.
How Are Dental Mouthguards Made?
There are many types of dental mouthguards available, including do-it-yourself styles that you can find at sporting goods stores, as well as professionally made and custom-fitted sports mouthguards obtained through dental clinics. For casual usage, store-bought mouthguards are an effective way to achieve some extra protection against impacts. These mouthguards are usually made from a semi-firm plastic material and pre-molded in a generic shape to fit most teeth. Some can be heated up using hot water and bitten down on to conform to the shape of the person’s teeth to provide a better fit and improve the protection level. However, for the best possible defense against impacts, a professionally-fitted custom sports mouthguard is needed.
Custom sports dental mouthguards feature advanced impact-absorbing composite materials that are more efficient at mitigating the force of impacts. Some mouthguards are made using multiple layers of materials in different densities to increase their ability to absorb impact energy and cushion the teeth. These mouthguards are also completely unique to the mouth of the wearer. The dentist will obtain a detailed mold of the person’s teeth and mouth, and use this mold to ensure that the guard is shaped to precisely match the orientation of each individual tooth.
After the mouthguard has been fabricated, the person will visit the dentist again to test the fit and obtain any final modifications or adjustments that may be required. After this, the mouthguard is ready for action! Additionally, the dentist will retain the molds and measurements in case the original mouthguard becomes lost or damaged. This way, a replacement can be quickly created so the person doesn’t have to go through the entire process all over again.
Now, sports and physical activities are not the only times that teeth are at risk of damage and in need of protection. For some people, the simple act of sleeping can present a danger to their teeth and require the use of a special mouthguard to prevent problems from developing.
What Makes a Dental Nightguard Different?
Nighttime tooth grinding and excessive jaw clenching, also known as bruxism, are very common problems for many people. Grinding the teeth wears on the enamel of the teeth, creating grooves and worn areas on the biting surfaces of the teeth. Clenching creates soreness and discomfort in the jaw muscles, leading to headaches and reduced sleep quality. Over time, these effects become cumulative. Teeth can become so worn that the enamel is too thin to protect the inner materials of the teeth, and clenching can progress to migraines, insomnia, and persistent soreness in the face and head.
As nightguards do not need to protect against sudden impacts, the design and the materials used in their construction are different from those of sports mouthguards. The process begins similarly, with a detailed mold being obtained of the person’s mouth. However, nighttime mouthguards are made from much thinner plastic composites and feature a low-profile design that is comfortable to wear when sleeping. Dental nightguards work to absorb pressure and distribute it throughout the mouth to mitigate the effects of clenching and prevent the friction of tooth grinding from wearing down the enamel of the teeth.
Consistency is key to getting the best possible results from dental nightguards. Starting as soon as you climb into bed, the nightguard should be worn all night, every night. Since there’s no way to predict when a person may grind their teeth or clench their jaw when sleeping, it’s not really possible to wear nightguards on an ‘as needed’ basis. With a dental nightguard reducing the effects of clenching and stopping tooth grinding, sleep quality will improve almost immediately. Patients who wear dental nightguards get better sleep, wake up more rested and relaxed. In addition, nightguards help avoid the potential dental problems that can develop, such as worn enamel, shifting teeth in the jaw, soreness and chronic headaches.
Care Tips for Your Dental Mouthguard or Nightguard
In general, there’s not much you need to do in order to properly care for a dental mouthguard or dental nightguard, but there are some basics you should know. First, keeping it clean is the most important thing. Washing it with cold water regularly and brushing with a bit of non-abrasive toothpaste will help keep it clean and fresh. You’ll want to make sure you store it safely and away from any sources of extreme temperatures. High heat can cause the mold to deform, and extreme cold may cause cracks. In most cases, professionally-fitted dental mouthguards and nightguards will come with a special storage case you can use to keep it clean, protected and safe.
Need a Dental Mouthguard? Contact Us Today and Get the Process Started!
Georgian Dental offers complete dental mouthguard fitting and fabrication services to patients of all ages. Whether you’re Canada’s next great hockey superstar, or just want to get better sleep each night, we can help. Using our state-of-the-art imaging technology and custom manufacturing process, your dental mouthguard will provide the best protection and optimum comfort for you each time you wear it. To learn more about the different styles of mouthguards and what option is best for you, contact us today to arrange for a no-obligation consultation. We look forward to answering any questions you may have!