Mouthguards: The Types and Benefits You Need to Know About

Mouthguards The Types and Benefits You Need to Know About - Pittsburgh Dentist

Did you know that an estimated 40 million mouthguards are sold each year in America alone? This puts the total market size at a staggering $2.6 billion USD in 2020. As participation in athletics increases, more and more people are turning to these important devices to protect and preserve their mouths.

And it’s not hard to see why mouthguards are paramount for providing protection. In the absence of mouthguards, playing sports would be much more dangerous than most people realize: you would be prone to cuts and scrapes within the mouth, in addition to chipped teeth, slit lips, and other injuries to the face and jaw.

A good mouthguard will prevent those things from occurring. Here are the benefits and types of mouthguards available.

What Types of Mouthguards are Available

Tailor-made Mouthguards

You can go to your dentist and have a tailor-made mouthguard created. Custom fitted to your mouth with the use of a mold of your teeth, this will have a much better feel and fit than many other mouthguard types. Additionally, they will feel more comfortable and be harder to shift or displace.

Stock Mouthguards

The most accessible and budget-friendly mouthguard is the stock variety. Generally, they can be found at most any sports or drug store. However, there are some downsides to this brand of mouthguard. Namely, the lack of customization. They only come in certain sizes, and due to this fact, they don’t always provide a proper fit and can sometimes even be a little painful to wear after a period of time.

Boil-and-bite Mouthguards

Boil-and-bite mouthguards can be bought in drug and certain hardware stores. They are very malleable as they are bought in a particular size, and then can be morphed into the shape of your mouth and teeth. This is done through a simple process: You begin by placing the mouthguard in boiling water, this softens it so that you can then bite down on it until it molds itself to the shape of your teeth and mouth.

Every boil-and-bite mouthguard comes with its own set of instructions for this process. Be sure to follow them for the best results.

The Benefits of Mouthguards

Prevents Sports Injuries

Whether you’re active in martial arts, football, wrestling, or any other type of sport or physical activity, having a mouthguard is paramount. Of course, there are certain sports that will be harder hitting than others, but a mouthguard is always a good idea to prevent injury to your mouth, teeth, face, and jaw.

Without a mouthguard, all it would take is a swift elbow or knee to the face for a tooth to chip, or cuts and abrasions to occur within the mouth. Here is a small list of sports you should have a mouthguard for:

  • Wrestling
  • Basketball
  • Martial arts
  • Hockey
  • Football
  • Gymnastics
  • Volleyball

Prevents Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Bruxism is a condition where you unconsciously and uncontrollably grind your teeth. Sometimes it happens while going about your daily routine, and other times, it occurs while you’re asleep. Either way, this is an issue that can present a whole host of problems such as mouth pain, impaired teeth, aching gums, etc.

The pressure and stress from always clenching and grinding your teeth can have many adverse effects over time. Sleeping with a mouthguard helps to separate the top and bottom rows of your teeth, thus, preventing the grinding from taking place.

Prevents Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea has the possibility of being harmful and dangerous. It’s a sleeping disorder that results in the person to momentarily stop breathing while they sleep. This can stop the flow of oxygen to the brain and has the potential to lead to a stroke or heart attack.

There are devices and apparatus’ that can help such as a CPAP machine, which opens up your airways while you’re sleeping. But if you’re not suffering from severe sleep apnea, then that won’t be necessary.

More than not, a tailor-made mouthguard will produce a similar outcome. A mouthguard assists with solving this problem by nudging both your tongue and your jaw forward. This results in an open airway along with clear and unobstructed breathing.

Minimize Snoring

Mouthguards also can minimize snoring. Similar to mouthguards for sleep apnea, they push the jawline and tongue forward to create an open airway. This allows clear breathing to occur as snoring typically happens when a blocked nasal airway is too stuffed for air to squeeze through.

Caring for Your Mouthguard

In order to ensure that your mouthguard lasts, you must maintain it and keep it clean. Here are a few steps to help you do that:

  • Keep your mouthguard in a cool and dry area
  • Keep it in its container
  • Bring it to dentist appointments for inspection
  • Check for signs of damage frequently (holes, abrasions, etc)
  • Clean it with a toothbrush and toothpaste regularly
  • Rinse with water daily
  • Brush and floss your teeth before using it

Mouthguards: Tying it All Together

A mouthguard is a great tool to help you sleep better and protect you from injury. For this reason, you should certainly look into getting one if you are having challenges sleeping or are active in sports.

If you need help determining the right mouthguard for your needs, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our office today to speak with a neuromuscular dentist.

Dr. Alexandra S. George

Medically reviewed by Dr. Alexandra S. George - D.D.S., L.Vl.I.F. on October 25th, 2021