What Are Mouth Guards?

Mouth guards are made of flexible plastic and they are designed to fit the shape of your teeth. These devices can protect your teeth and your jaw during any physical activity in which your mouth may be hit. They provide additional protection for the soft tissues of your mouth found in your lips, tongue, and cheek lining. Some patients may find them helpful if they grind or clench their teeth during the night.

If you and your dentist decide that a mouth guard is appropriate for you, your dentist will take an impression of your teeth from which to custom-fit a guard for you. Of course, there are many colors and styles from which to choose. With proper use and care, a mouth guard should last anywhere from three to ten years.

A patient can generally find three types of mouth guards:

Stock mouth protectors – These are the least expensive and are found at sporting good stores and department stores. While the cost is low, they are not effective and are not generally recommended by dentists. They are bulky and uncomfortable. For some people, they can make breathing difficult.

Boil-and-Bite mouth protectors – These, too, can be found at sporting good stores and department stores. They are made from a special plastic. Once they are placed in boiling water, they become temporarily soft. While they are soft, they can be placed in the mouth and shaped to fit around the teeth. If properly shaped, these can certainly be more comfortable and effective than the stock protectors.

Custom-fit mouth protectors – These are specifically designed for you, usually at a dentist’s office. Your dentist will make a unique impression of your teeth and have a mouth guard custom-fit for your teeth. This type of protector is the most expensive due to the extra labor involved and the special material used. However, it is the most effective when it comes to comfort and protection.