What is a mouth guard? What is a mouth guard?

What is a mouth guard?

Posted: 31st October

By: Neil Woodhouse

What is a mouth guard?

A mouth guard, or a gum shield, is a protective dental device that covers the teeth and gums. Sportspeople and athletes most commonly wear mouth guards to prevent injury and protect teeth and gums from high-impact knocks, but they are also used to treat a variety of conditions such as teeth grinding and sleep apnea. 

This article will look at:

  • How are mouth guards made?
  • Types of mouth guards 
  • The benefits and risks of using a mouth guard
  • How to care for your mouth guard
  • Mouth guards for braces
  • How much mouth guards cost
Custom mouth guards from Neyo Dental Specialists

How are mouth guards made?

The process is similar to taking impressions for removable retainers. Traditionally, a dental impression is taken of the upper teeth using an alginate material. Using this impression, a plaster mould is then created for the mouth guard to be formed on to. Modern clinics like Neyo Dental Specialists adopt an impression free approach and instead use a 3D intraoral scanner to produce a digital model of the teeth. Resin models can then be 3D printed on which the mouth guard will be made. Dental grade thermal polymer is heated and pressed into the plaster or resin model to form the bespoke mouth guard.


Should mouth guards hurt?

A mouth guard shouldn’t hurt to wear, but they can take time to get used to and may feel odd in your mouth at first. Your mouth guard shouldn’t feel sharp or excessively bulky and should sit so it covers the upper gums to just below the lips. If your mouth guard is causing pain, soreness, or gagging, it will need to be adjusted.


Why do mouth guards only cover upper teeth?

Most mouth guards are only designed to cover the upper teeth as these tend to stick out slightly more than the bottom teeth, and are therefore at more risk of impact or injury. However, some conditions may require a mouth guard for the lower teeth.


Types of Mouth Guards

There are three common types of mouth guards:

1 – Mouth guards for sports. These protect teeth and gums from high-impact injuries. Sports mouth guards are usually needed for activities including hockey, rugby, boxing, martial arts, and lacrosse. 

2 – Mouth guards for teeth grinding: These can help to protect teeth from the effects of teeth clenching and grinding. They are most commonly worn at night and are also known as night guards.

3 – Mouth guards for sleep conditions: Individuals who suffer from sleep conditions such as snoring and sleep apnea may use mouth guards to help reposition their lower jaw during sleep to allow them to breathe more easily.


Mouth guard benefits and risks

Wearing a mouth guard whilst playing contact sports, or during activities that may result in injury, can help avoid:

  • Injuries to your teeth, gums, and inner mouth 
  • Teeth being knocked out
  • Chipped teeth 

There are few risks of wearing mouth guards for contact activities, however, ill-fitting mouth guards may cause:

  • Jaw soreness
  • Toothache and soreness
  • Gum soreness and bleeding 

Custom-made mouth guards tend to be more comfortable as they are made specifically for your mouth.

How to care for your mouth guard

Mouth guards can pick up bacteria from your mouth, and should be cleaned regularly to avoid bacteria build-up and deterioration. Some tips to keep your mouth guard in its best condition include:

  • Clean your teeth before you wear your mouth guard.
  • Keep your mouth guard out of direct sunlight or extreme heat – high temperatures can warp your mouth guard and alter its shape.
  • After each use, rinse your mouth guard with cool water and use a soft toothbrush to clean away any debris – leave to air dry. 
  • When not in use, keep your mouth guard in a hard, ventilated plastic case to avoid breakage.


Mouth guards for braces

You should use a mouth guard for activities you would normally do, even if you have braces.  

If you have fixed braces, a custom-made mouth guard that matches the contours of your braces’ brackets is essential: it will ensure optimal safety and maximum protection for your mouth. 

At Neyo Dental Specialists, we will be able to assist you in selecting the right mouthguard and will provide guidance on its proper use during sports. We will also be able to inform you when a new mouth guard fitting might be necessary as your teeth alignment progresses.


How much do mouth guards cost?

Store-bought mouth guards vary in price and tend to range between £15 and £70 depending on the brand and quality.

The custom-made mouth guards we create at Neyo Dental Specialist cost £120, more information on our pricing can be found on our fees and pricing page

For more information about the type of mouth guards you may need or if you’d like to inquire about a custom-made mouth guard, you can contact NEYO Dental through our online form

For sports teams and schools interested in discussing a bespoke package to supply a large number of mouthguards, please get in touch via our contact page.

You can learn more about our other services on our orthodontics treatments page.

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