01 May Do I Need a Mouthguard?
You know mouthguards play an important role in contact sports, but did you know that you can benefit from wearing one off the field? If you’ve been told you clench or grind your teeth or are one of the 90 million Americans who snore or have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the solution might be a custom-fitted mouthguard.
Bruxism & TMJ
Do you often wake up with sore jaw muscles or a headache? How about general aching in the face, head, or neck? If so, there might be more to these symptoms than life’s everyday stressors.
Bruxism is a condition that causes you to grind, gnash or clench your teeth. People with bruxism may unconsciously clench their teeth throughout the day or clench or grind them while sleeping. Over time, untreated bruxism can lead to tooth pain and loose or chipped teeth. In some instances, parts of the teeth are literally ground away, and the surrounding bone and gum tissue are destroyed. It can also lead to painful jaw issues, such as temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ). Wearing a custom-fitted mouthguard prevents grinding by separating your top and bottom teeth. This alleviates muscle tension caused by clenching, which can prevent jaw problems from developing and help relieve any existing jaw pain.
Snoring & Sleep Apnea
Beyond poor sleep, snoring and sleep apnea can have long-term health consequences such as high blood pressure, heart conditions, and stroke. However, a custom mouthguard or oral appliance can help alleviate snoring and sleep apnea.
Instead of simply covering your teeth, a mouthguard for sleep apnea works by pushing your lower jaw and tongue forward, keeping your airway open, thus reducing the air resistance that leads to sleep apnea and snoring. Some types have a strap that goes around your head and chin to re-adjust your lower jaw.
Braces & Mouthguards
Mouthguards can be worn with braces, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind. Mouthguards are made to fit against your teeth to provide protection; however, when you have traditional braces, brackets, and wires on the surface of your teeth block the normal fit of the mouthguard. Additionally, teeth continue to shift while wearing braces, so the same mouthguard will not fit correctly for the duration of your treatment. It’s also important to continually evaluate your mouthguard’s fit and check in with your orthodontist to ensure the guard isn’t working against your braces as your teeth move.
Though not mandated for all sports, mouthguards are an important piece of safety equipment that should be worn while participating in rigorous activities, including contact and non-contact sports or recreation like skateboarding, mountain biking, or climbing.
While wearing a mouthguard won’t prevent getting an elbow or ball in the face, it will cushion the blow and reduce the risk of broken or knocked-out teeth. Mouthguards also help protect the lips, tongue, and inner lining of the cheeks. For those who have braces, mouthguards can prevent damage to brackets and serve as a barrier between braces and your soft tissue, lowering the risk of gum injury.
Types of Mouthguards
A few different types of mouthguards are available, but not all types are suitable for every situation. It’s best to consult with our dental team to ensure you select the right guard for your needs, particularly if you have braces and/or are addressing medical issues such as bruxism, sleep apnea, or TMJ.
If you participate in sports or think you may have any of the conditions described here, you may benefit from using a mouthguard. Contact our office to schedule a consultation or speak with a team member.