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Mouthguards | What Are They and Why Do You Need Them?

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Participating in activities like sports and martial arts can be a lot of fun, as well as a smart way to exercise, but it could also be risky, particularly when it comes to your teeth. And that’s where a good mouthguard can come in to provide the protection that you need.

What are mouthguards, and why would you need to use one? We’ve got you covered with some helpful information below.   

What Exactly Is a Mouthguard, Anyway?

Also referred to as a mouth protector, a mouthguard is a simple product that you can easily place in your mouth, usually only on the upper teeth, in order to cover your pearly whites and protect them against impact. This means that, whether you get punched in the face during a karate class, a ball hits your face while playing sports, or you fall while skating, your mouthguard could help reduce the risk of injuring your mouth or breaking your teeth.

Note: Beyond protecting your chompers, mouthguards can even help protect the inside of your cheeks and lips, as well as your tongue.

Fun fact: You typically don’t need to use a mouthguard to cover your lower teeth because they’re already a bit more protected, while the top teeth are more exposed. However, you can also get a mouthguard for your lower teeth when necessary, such as if you wear braces.  

Is a Mouthguard One Size Fits All?

There are actually a few different types of mouthguards that you can choose from, depending on your needs and preferences.

  • First up, there’s the good ol’ stock mouthguard, which is a preformed product that is ready for use right after you purchase it. You can easily find these mouthguards in stores, such as in a sporting goods store, and they’re affordable. Unfortunately, if the fit isn’t perfect, there isn’t much that you can do about it, and your mouthguard might not be able to fully protect your teeth if that’s the case. Plus, you might even find that this mouth protector isn’t all that comfortable. So, while this may be a good place to start when searching for a mouthguard, there are better options out there.  
  • Custom-fitted mouthguards are—you guessed it—custom-made to fit your unique mouth. What could be better than that? Your dentist can help you get the ideal mouth protector by taking an impression of your teeth and then crafting a mouthguard in that shape. This is the best way to get the full protection that you want for your chompers, but be prepared to pay more for this personalized product.
  • Another option is the boil and bite mouthguard, which you can also buy in stores. This is a good in-between solution if you want something that’s a little more customized to your mouth, without having to go to the dentist to purchase a more expensive custom-fitted product. Basically, you’ll put this mouthguard into some hot water in order to soften it up. Then, you’ll place it in your mouth so that it can take on the shape of your teeth. Not bad, right?

Tip: How do you know if a mouthguard is the perfect fit? If it’s comfortable and it isn’t restricting your ability to breathe or speak, it’s a great choice.  

Can a Mouthguard Really Protect Your Teeth?

You might be wondering if a mouthguard is really necessary, worth the money, and protective enough. The truth is that, yes, when it’s properly fitted, it can be effective.

  • If you enjoy sports that may result in blows to the face that put your jaw, lips, teeth, and tongue at risk, a mouthguard is necessary to keep your smile looking beautiful. Keep in mind, too, that if you participate in non-contact sports (like biking or gymnastics, as a couple of examples), a mouthguard can be helpful.
  • People of all ages, including kids, can benefit from the use of a protective and properly fitted mouthguard. So if you’re going to do anything that could put you at risk of a mouth injury or broken teeth, consider wearing a mouthguard while you play.
  • Because a blow to your face might also cause damage to fixed bridgework or braces, the right mouthguard will even help protect orthodontic appliances, too.  

Did you know? Mouthguards aren’t just for active adventure seekers and athletes. There are also mouthguards available for those who grind their teeth while asleep. If you have been diagnosed with bruxism or TMJ, your dentist might discuss mouthguard options to help you get relief from these oral health problems.

Talk to Your Dentist About Mouthguards!

When in doubt about whether you need a mouthguard, and when you need some advice regarding which mouthguard is appropriate for you, it’s best to have a chat with your dentist. Also, when store-bought mouthguards won’t cut it, don’t hesitate to consult with your dentist about getting a product that will fit your mouth just right and provide the highest level of protection for your precious teeth.

Hey, accidents happen. So why not take an extra step towards protecting yourself against injuries while you’re having fun? Young or old, a mouthguard is a great little device that anyone can use to reduce the risk of chipping your teeth, hurting the soft tissues of your mouth, or even losing a tooth during a variety of activities.  

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