A patient's dentist may recommend custom mouth guards to reduce the effects of bruxism and help prevent long-term tooth damage. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a common cause of headaches, jaw pain and similar symptoms. It also can increase a patient's risk for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome, a condition that may cause jaw joint pain,…
When a Dentist Would Recommend Mouth Guards
While mouth guards are something that you can purchase for yourself for use in sports or other activities, higher quality or customized options are occasionally recommended by your dentist for use in preventative care against tooth damage. There are a few different types of mouth guards that a dentist may suggest you use if you fall into one of the categories discussed below.
What do mouthguards do?
Mouthguards protect your teeth from damage by keeping the top row of teeth separated from the bottom row. Often made from a malleable material, they add a layer of protection that prevents teeth from grinding or the jaw from slamming together too hard. Different styles of guards are made with specific purposes in mind, and your dentist may recommend one that serves a very different purpose from the generic ones available at most stores.
Sports and exercise
In most cases, if you need a mouth guard for sports or exercise, generic options purchased over the counter should be good enough. One reason you may need to work with a dentist for a custom mouthguard is if you wear braces, which require a different fit than a standard guard. Unlike most mouth guards, which only cover the top row of teeth, guards for braces often cover both the top and bottom rows to prevent the braces from being knocked out of place in the event of an impact.
Sleep apnea and snoring
A type of sleeping disorder that affects your ability to breathe easily, sleep apnea can cause symptoms such as grogginess and insomnia. Special custom mouth guards for sleep apnea work to ease these symptoms by positioning your jaw in a way that allows better airflow to your lungs while you sleep. This can be a good option for those whose sleep apnea is mild enough that a CPAP machine is not necessary.
Guards designed for sleep apnea can also help with associated problems, such as snoring. They can be used even if the person does not specifically have sleep apnea as long as it is discussed with a health provider to ensure that it is the right solution.
Grinding or clenching together teeth too often can lead to wear and eventual damage. The medical term for this is bruxism, and it is another common reason for a dentist to recommend guards. Some people may grind their teeth in their sleep or throughout the day as a response to stress. If left unchecked, bruxism can cause damage to the gums and jaw as well as the teeth. Mouthguards can help prevent this, especially if the grinding happens while the individual is sleeping and is unaware of the behavior.
A dentist may recommend mouth guards for the above problems and more. A mouthguard can be a simple solution that prevents the development of issues with the teeth, gums, and jaw. It is important to purchase the proper mouth guard for your needs, whether that be a custom-made option from your dentist's office or an over-the-counter option.
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