However, not all mouthguards are the same. There are three main types, depending on your needs. Keep reading to learn about the different types, including which ones are best for certain situations.
What are the types of mouthguards?
A stock mouthguard is the most widely available and affordable type of mouthguard. You can find them at most sporting goods stores and drug stores.
They usually come in small, medium, and large sizes and fit over your teeth. Most stock mouthguards only cover your top teeth.
While stock mouthguards are easy to find and inexpensive, they do have some downsides. Due to their limited size options, they’re usually uncomfortable and don’t provide a tight fit. This can also make it hard to talk while wearing one.
preformed and come ready to wear. They are inexpensive and can be bought at most sporting good stores and department stores. However, little can be done to adjust their fit, they are bulky, make breathing and talking difficult, and they provide little or no protection. Dentists do not recommend their use.
Similar to stock mouthguards, boil-and-bite mouthguards are sold in most drugstores and are relatively inexpensive.
Instead of coming in a few sizes, boil-and-bite mouthguards come in one size that you can customize to fit your teeth. This involves boiling the mouthguard until it softens and then placing it over your front teeth and biting down.
To get the best fit, make sure you follow the instructions that come with it.
also can be bought at many sporting goods stores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. The “boil and bite” mouthguard is made from thermoplastic material. It is placed in hot water to soften, then placed in the mouth, and shaped around the teeth using finger and tongue pressure.
You can also get a mouthguard custom-made by your dentist. They’ll take a mold of your teeth and use it to create a mouthguard specifically for the structure of your teeth and mouth.
This provides a much better fit than either a stock or boil-and-bite mouthguard does, which makes them more comfortable and harder to accidentally dislodge while you’re sleeping.
If you grind your teeth, snore, or have sleep apnea, a custom-made mouthguard is your best option. While they’re more expensive than over-the-counter mouthguards, many dental insurance plans cover some or all of the cost.
Custom-fitted mouth protectors are individually designed and made in a dental office or a professional laboratory based on your dentist’s instructions. First, your dentist will make an impression of your teeth and a mouth guard is then molded over the model using a special material. Due to the use of the special material and because of the extra time and work involved, this custom-made mouthguard is more expensive than the other types, but it provides the most comfort and protection.
Generally, mouth guards cover your upper teeth only, but in some instances (such as if you wear braces or another fixed dental appliance on your lower jaw), your dentist will make a mouth guard for the lower teeth as well. Your dentist can suggest the best mouthguard for you. An effective mouthguard should be comfortable, resist tears, be durable and easy to clean, and should not restrict your breathing or speech.
What type should I use?
While different types of mouthguards look similar to each other, they can have very different functions.
Certain sports and activities carry a high risk of falling or resulting in injuries that can impact your face. A mouthguard can help to protect your teeth and prevent them from injuring your lips or tongue.
It’s especially important to use a mouthguard if you’re involved in any of the following:
- field hockey
- ice hockey
- in-line skating
In most cases, either a stock mouthguard or a boil-and-bite mouthguard is a good choice for protection while you play sports. Stock mouthguards are the least expensive and maybe a good option if you only need to wear one occasionally.
While slightly more expensive, boil-and-bite mouthguards offer a better fit, which helps them stay in place. If you participate in high-impact sports, this might be a better option for you.
Teeth grinding and clenching are part of a condition called bruxism, which is a sleep-related movement disorder that can cause a variety of problems, such as tooth pain, jaw pain, and sore gums. It can also damage your teeth.
Wearing a mouthguard while your sleep can help keep your top and bottom teeth separated so they don’t damage each other from the pressure of grinding or clenching.
In most cases, you’ll want a custom-fitted mouthguard for bruxism. Stock mouthguards are hard to keep in place and uncomfortable, which can make it difficult to sleep. While boil-and-bite mouthguards offer a better fit, they become brittle and weak with frequent use.
If you aren’t sure whether you need a mouthguard for bruxism, you can always try a boil-and-bite mouthguard for a few nights. If it seems to help, talk to your dentist about getting a custom guard.
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that causes a person to temporarily stop breathing while asleep. This can prevent your brain from receiving enough oxygen and increasesTrusted Source your risk of heart disease and stroke. It can also cause excessive snoring and leave you feeling groggy the next day.
Some people with sleep apnea use a CPAP machine, which keeps your airways open while you sleep. However, if you only have mild sleep apnea, a custom-made mouthguard can provide a similar effect.
Instead of simply covering your teeth, a mouthguard for sleep apnea works by pushing your lower jaw and tongue forward, keeping your airway open. Some types have a strap that goes around your head and chin to re-adjust your lower jaw.
For this purpose, you can skip the stock and boil-and-bite mouthguards, which won’t do anything for your breathing.
Mouthguards can also help to reduce snoring, which happens due to vibrations of soft tissue in your upper airway. They tend to work similarly to mouthguards for sleep apnea. Both types work by pulling your lower jaw forward to keep your airway open.
You’ll find many over-the-counter mouthguards available in stores and online that claim to prevent snoring. However, there hasn’t been much research done on them, and it’s not clear whether they’re effective.
If your snoring is interfering with your daily life, talk to your dentist about mouthguard options. They may be able to make you a mouthguard or recommend one that’s worked for their other patients.
Who Needs a Mouth Guard?
Mouthguards should be used by anyone — children and adults — who play contact sports such as football, boxing, soccer, ice hockey, basketball, lacrosse, and field hockey. However, even those participating in non-contact sports (for example, gymnastics) and any recreational activity (for example, skateboarding, mountain biking) that might pose a risk of injury to the mouth would benefit from wearing a protective mouthguard.
Adults and children who grind their teeth at night should have a nocturnal bite plate or bite splint made to prevent tooth damage.
Why Use a Mouth Guard When Playing Sports?
Because accidents can happen during any physical activity, the advantage of using a mouth guard during sports is that it can help limit the risk of mouth-related injuries to your lips, tongue, and soft tissues of your mouth. Mouthguards also help you avoid chipped or broken teeth, nerve damage to a tooth, or even tooth loss.
Can I Wear a Mouth Guard if I Wear Braces?
Yes. Since an injury to the face could damage braces or other fixed appliances, a properly fitted mouthguard may be particularly important for people who wear braces or have fixed bridgework. Your dentist or orthodontist can determine the mouth guard that will provide the best protection for your unique mouth work. An important reminder: do not wear any orthodontic retainers or other removable appliances during any contact sports or during any recreational activities that put your mouth at risk for injury. One exception is Invisalign trays, which can often be worn during sports sometimes along with a mouthguard. If you are using Invisalign trays and playing sports, check with your dentist about whether or not and how you should wear them.
Is there a mouthguard for braces?
Can I wear a mouthguard with braces? If so, what kind?
Yes, you can wear a mouthguard with braces. It’s very important to wear a mouthguard if you play sports or grind or clench your teeth. The best kind of guard is a custom-fitted one that your dentist makes. There are several guards specifically for braces that cover both the upper and lower teeth for sports. It’s very important to protect your teeth, lips, tongue, and cheeks, and you don’t want to damage your braces. A guard for grinding or clenching can cover just the upper or lower teeth. The most important part is the correct fit — it has to be comfortable so you’ll wear it.
How to care for your mouthguard
It’s important to protect your mouthguard from damage and keep it clean since it spends a lot of time in your mouth.
To get the most out of your mouthguard, follow these steps:
- Brush and floss your teeth before putting in your mouthguard.
- Rinse your mouthguard with cool water or mouthwash before putting it in and after taking it out. Avoid using hot water, which can warp its shape.
- Use a toothbrush and toothpaste to clean it after each use.
- Regularly check for holes or other signs of damage, which means it needs to be replaced.
- Bring your mouthguard to any dentist appointments you have. They can make sure it still fits properly and works.
- Store your mouthguard in a hard container with some ventilation to protect it and allow it to dry out between uses.
- Keep your mouthguard out of reach of any pets, even if the guard is in a container.
Keep in mind that mouthguards don’t last forever. Replace your mouthguard as soon as you start to notice any holes or signs of wear, or every two to three years. You may need to replace stock and boil-and-bite mouthguards more frequently.
The bottom line
Whether you’re playing sports or you have a sleep disorder, a mouthguard can offer protection and help you get a good night’s sleep.
If you’re still not sure what type of mouthguard you need, talk to your dentist. They can either work with you to create a custom mouthguard or recommend an over-the-counter device.
We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today
Dr. Seif received an award in Aesthetic Dentistry and an Advanced Standing Achievement Certificate and held a position as a part-time clinical instructor.
Dr. Seif has more than 15 years of experience as a dentist and has obtained two dental degrees. Dr. Seif earned his first degree in dentistry in Syria in 1998 and practiced general dentistry until coming to the US to advance his education by earning a second dental degree from Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, a world-renown dental institute. While at Loma Linda, Dr. Seif received an award in Aesthetic Dentistry and an Advanced Standing Achievement Certificate and held a position as a part-time clinical instructor.
Dr. Seif’s compassion and friendly nature is evident to his patients. He believes that every individual should be treated in a kind, caring and respectful manner. Dr. Seif is dedicated to life-long learning and enjoys participating in post-graduate courses that enable him to provide his patients and community with the excellent dental care he believes every person deserves.
Moving from the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 2014, Dr. Seif now calls Baytown his home. Along with cooking, friends, family and his dog, Sophie, he enjoys southern culture. He is enthralled by the friendliness and hospitality he finds in Texas, saying, “This is exactly the kind of community I want to live and practice in!”