A guide to mouth guards

For anyone who plays sports (particularly ones which involve a lot of physical contact, like rugby or wrestling), a mouth guard is an essential piece of safety equipment. Read on to learn more about this important dental accessory.

What are mouth guards used for?

A mouth guard can absorb and evenly spread the impact of a potentially harmful blow. In doing so, it prevents the wearer from sustaining injuries such as a knocked-out, cracked or chipped tooth, a broken jaw or cuts to their tongue or lips. Wearing this accessory whilst participating in high-contact sports can dramatically reduce the chance of a person having to endure the pain and expense of restorative dental treatments that are often needed after an oral injury, such as root canals and dental implants.

Is a custom-made mouth guard better than a generic one?

When they first decide to use this type of product, many people make the mistake of purchasing a 'one-size-fits-all' mouth guard from their local sports shop or pharmacy.

Due to the fact that these generic models cannot possibly serve as a perfect match for every single person's mouth, they rarely, if ever offer the level of protection that the wearer requires. In some cases, they may even do more harm than good; a mouth guard that is too large and therefore needs to be squeezed into the mouth could not only cause gum irritation and soreness but might also potentially interfere with a person's breathing.

This is why anyone who needs to wear a mouth guard should have it custom-made by their dentist; they will be able to design it in such a way that it will be an exact fit for the contours of wearer's mouth, even if they happen to have unusually-shaped teeth which protrude or overlap. This will mean that the mouth guard will provide the maximum amount of protection from impact, without causing irritation or affecting their ability to breathe. To make this item a dentist will create a mould of the patient's mouth, which will then be used as the basis for the creation of the custom mouth guard.

How should mouth guards be cared for?

A mouth guard which is not cleaned on a regular basis can wreak havoc on a person's health; the accumulation of bacteria and mould on the surface of this product can result in both bacterial and fungal oral infections.

Mouth guards should be thoroughly washed after every use. The surface of the item should be carefully scrubbed using a toothbrush, some water and a generous amount of toothpaste; this will help to remove most of the bacteria and debris.

It should then be rinsed under a tap to wash away any toothpaste residue, before being left to soak in a glass filled with an antibacterial mouthwash for several minutes. Following this, the mouth guard should be dried with a clean cloth before being placed inside a ventilated storage case.