Mouth guards are an important piece of gear for various other kinds of physical activities and sports-from rollerblading to downhill sledding. Hundreds of thousands injuries occur every year involving the face and mouth-injuries that many times could be avoided or minimized if a mouth guard had been worn, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Mouth guards provide valuable protection for the jaw, face, tongue, lips, and of course, teeth. For example, a traumatic blow to the front of the face can not only tear soft tissue or knock out teeth, but also may force the lower jaw into the upper jaw. A mouth guard can help keep your teeth from tearing the soft tissues of your mouth during a traumatic injury. And in all cases, mouth guards can protect you when you’re wearing bridges or braces.
Mouth guards are generally small plastic appliances that safely fit around your teeth. Many mouth guards are soft and pliable when opened, and mold to your teeth when first inserted.
Mouth guards can help prevent a whole host of traumatic injuries to the neck and jaw, as well as more serious problems such as cerebral hemorrhages and concussions.
Types of Mouth Guards
Mouth protectors come in basically three different types or designs:
- One of the most common mouth guards is the kind you soak in hot water and then mold to your teeth.
- Custom-fitted mouth guards are usually made by your dentist, and as such, provide a much greater measure of confidence in their ability to protect your mouth and other facial structures.
- The least attractive option are pre-molded mouth guards you typically find in point-of-sale aisles at sporting goods stores. These may be ready to wear, but because they are not molded to the unique shape of your teeth and mouth, can easily become dislodged.
Care for Your Mouth Guard
Your mouth guard needs to be cleaned (usually with warm soap and water) and allowed to air dry after each use. You also can soak your mouth guard in an antiseptic mouthwash to help remove many kinds of germs.
If you don’t regularly clean your mouth guard, bacteria and other germs will grow on the device and enter your mouth the next time you use the guard, making you vulnerable to infections.