How do mouthguards work? The answer to that question depends on why you are wearing the mouthguard. This humble, seemingly simple oral appliance can serve many purposes.
How Do Mouthguards Work?
Mouthguards are devices that are worn over the teeth. If you want to understand how they work, it’s a good idea to start with a look at the varied purposes that mouthguards can serve. Then, you might want to take a quick peek at the general categories of mouthguards that are available.
Mouthguards for Athletics
If you play a sport that puts you at risk of falling or taking a blow to the face or mouth, a mouthguard is a smart precaution. When worn over the teeth while you’re playing, it forms a protective shield that can reduce the risk of injury to your teeth, lips, or tongue.
Mouthguards for Bruxism
Nocturnal bruxism is a sleep-related movement disorder that drives you to repeatedly grind your teeth and clench your jaw. Unfortunately, this behavior can cause major damage to your teeth and jaw if left unchecked. As Johns Hopkins Medicine reports, bruxism sufferers who fail to manage their problem can end up with damaged enamel, cracked or broken teeth, troubles with the jaw or its temporomandibular joint, damage to the cheeks or gums, facial pain, headaches, and other issues. Mouthguards can help protect your smile. When worn at night, they can ease the jaw into a more relaxed position. In addition, they provide a physical barrier between the upper and lower teeth that limits the potential for tooth damage if grinding does occur.
Mouthguards for Sleep Apnea
People with sleep apnea stop breathing for brief periods of time. While they don’t wake fully, their bodies do rouse them enough to restart the breathing process, which is enough to shatter their chance for a good night’s sleep and put a significant strain on their well-being. As Healthline explains, continuous positive airway pressure therapy, or CPAP therapy, is generally considered the gold standard when it comes to treatment for people with sleep apnea. However, if your sleep apnea is mild, you may be able to use a mouthguard to manage your condition. Mouthguards for sleep apnea work by holding the jaw forward, which helps to keep the airway open, reducing apnea events.
Mouthguards for Snoring
Snoring may sound like someone is sawing logs, but it is actually the result of vibrations of the soft tissue in the upper airway. When you keep the airway open, the snoring becomes less of a problem. How do mouthguards work to prevent snoring? Much like the ones designed for sleep apnea, snoring mouthguards gently pull the jaw forward to keep the airway open while you sleep so that you can do so without a lot of sound and fury.
Categories of Mouthguards
Since mouthguards can be used for so many different purposes, it should come as no surprise that there are several different categories of mouthguards:
- Stock Mouthguards: These inexpensive, ready-to-wear mouthguards are preformed. You’ll find them on the shelf of your local sporting goods store. They tend to be bulky and poorly fitting, so talking and breathing can be a challenge.
- Boil-and-Bite Mouthguards: Made from a thermoplastic material, these mouthguards are softened in hot water before being placed in your mouth to produce a vaguely customized fit. Available at drugstores, sporting goods stores, and various online retailers, these offer more comfort than stock models, but they lack durability.
- Custom-Fit Mouthguards: Made in a professional dental lab using professional-grade processes and materials, custom-fit mouthguards are made from a mold of a patient’s teeth, so they offer a truly personalized fit. They also offer greater durability and come in a wider range of styles and materials that can accommodate the specific needs that patients have.
At Wilkinson Dental, we’re determined to provide a comfortable, effective patient experience. We invest in cutting-edge technology to ensure that we’re always ready to provide you with the top-of-the-line service you deserve. Whether you need general dentistry or cosmetic dentistry services, our expert team is ready to help you smile. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.