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Dental Mouth Guards: The Basics of Mouth Protection

Dr. Hellwig Jan 6, 2016

A woman with a mouth guardWhen patients visit Dr. Peter Hellwig, they know that they are meeting with someone they can trust. His general dentistry practice in San Diego has built a strong reputation for improving patient health and wellness through an effective array of treatments.

Prevention and protection is part of good dental care, which is why mouth guards are often considered for patients. We'd like to go over the basics of mouth guards right now.

What Is a Mouth Guard?

A mouth guard is a protective retainer that is worn in order to prevent serious injury to the teeth, gums, and/or tongue. There are many uses for mouth guards and they are designed in various ways specific to their uses. Let's look at some of the ways that mouth guards can help you.

Mouth Guards for Sports Dentistry

One of the most common uses for mouth guards is sports dentistry. This means the use of protective retainers worn for athletes at different levels who participate in contact sports or combat sports. Some of the most common sports in which mouth guards can be helpful include the following:

  • Football
  • Hockey
  • Rugby
  • Lacrosse
  • Boxing
  • Wrestling
  • Tournament martial arts
  • Mixed martial arts (MMA)

Even in non-combat sports, the use of mouth guards may be ideal just for added protection from harm. Some very competitive and physical sports such as basketball and soccer can result in possible blows to the face and mouth. Wearing a mouth guard in these cases can minimize the potential harm to your teeth, gums, and tongue.

Mouth Guards for Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Teeth grinding refers to the clenching, gnashing, shifting, and movement that your teeth do while you are asleep. This condition can result in chips and cracks on your teeth as well as gum recession, jaw pain, headaches, and fatigue during the day due to a lack of restful sleep.

One of the ways that teeth grinding can be treated is the use of a mouth guard. In this context, the mouth guard is referred to as a bite guard or a night guard. The retainer helps prevent direct contact between the top row and bottom row of your teeth, reducing the amount of pressure placed on your teeth. This prevents damage and eases pain on the jaw in the process. Additional treatments are often necessary to eliminate teeth grinding entirely.

Mouth Guards for TMJ Disorders

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most complicated joints in the entire body. This makes sense given the various motions required for the jaw to move in order to bite, chew, speak, and make facial expressions. When the jaw joint does not function properly, this is known as a TMJ disorder or TMD. A TMD can result in a number of problems, including jaw pain, lockjaw, clicking, crunching, and popping.

Many TMJ disorders are linked to or directly caused by teeth grinding. Part of the TMJ disorder treatment in these cases is the use of a bite guard during sleep. Additional therapies are often required to improver the proper movement and function of the jaw.

Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Peter Hellwig

For more information about your options for preventative and general dentistry, be sure to contact our advanced dental care team today. Dr. Peter Hellwig and the entire team at the practice look forward to your visit and helping you have a healthy and well-protected smile.

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El Cajon, CA 92020

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