Dental professionals recommend mouth guards as a solution to many problems in addition to their preventive use for athletes. In our practice, the doctors will often suggest an occlusal guard for any of the following:
Stock, or Ready-Made: This over-the-counter night guard is the most economical option, but rarely recommended by dentists. Since these mouth guards are bought pre-formed, they are often ill-fitting and bulky and can make talking and breathing more difficult.
Mouth adapted, or “Boil and Bite”: These can also be purchased over-the-counter at many sporting goods stores. While still not ideal, this type of mouth guard is a step above the preformed ones – here you heat the guard to soften it, then bite into the guard to adapt the shape to your mouth. Here’s what we’ve found before when searching for over the counter night guard options. Of the “boil and bite” variety – ones that you soften with heat and mold to your mouth by biting into – these options are the ones that have impressed us the most:
Also, check out this video. This helps to show the damage grinding/clenching can do to your teeth. Custom-made: Naturally, something crafted to the exact specifications of your teeth and bite is going to offer you the best protection. At our office in Chicago mouth guards come in two varieties: a soft occlusal guard for lower teeth, made on-site, and a hard upper guard produced in collaboration with a local lab. Each type of night guard involves the same simple, two-step process. We first bring you in for a set of impressions so we know exactly what we need to fabricate. Impressions for mouth guards are quick and easy, taking only about 15 minutes to accomplish. We then bring you back in a week to a week and a half to pick up your appliance, make sure everything fits and deliver any additional instructions needed. Simple as pie!
Retainers – in our office we usually recommend the Vivera retainers that are common at the end of Invisalign treatment – can be a good option to help guard against grinding during waking hours. Since the material is thinner, it is easier to function in, but will still provide a barrier for the teeth.
A mouth guard – also called night guard, occlusal guard, occlusal splint, bite guard, mouthpiece, etc. – is a protective device that covers the teeth and gums to prevent and/or reduce injury. It is popularly believed that mouth guards were originally conceived for use in boxing. The original guards were little more than small pieces of cotton, tape, sponge or wood that boxers would clench between their teeth.
Since this solution was impractical and distracting to the boxers, dentists, specifically Woolf Krause of Britain, began to manufacture mouthpieces from strips of gutta-percha (a natural rubber resin) around 1892. His son Philip is often credited with making the first reusable mouthpieces early in the 20th century, though other claims to this advancement exist. 1947 saw the next major breakthrough when the acrylic resin was first used to make a mouth guard that was thinner and more functional than its predecessors. Over the next half century, use of mouth guards spread rapidly from boxing to most contact and non-contact sports.
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