Mouthguards are worn by athletes to protect their teeth but are also worn by others to protect their teeth from nighttime teeth grinding, or to protect tissue inside the mouth from braces. Custom mouthguards offered by dentists provide the best protection.

What are the dangers people face by not wearing a mouthguard while playing sports?

Dr. John Vitale: Well for athletes, if you don’t wear a mouthguard, statistics show that you are 60 times more likely to suffer a harmful injury to your teeth. That can be categorized as losing a tooth, fracturing teeth, causing endodontic problems with teeth, and so it is very, very essential that you wear a mouthguard, especially in sports.

How are mouthguards for braces different than regular sports mouthguards, and why?

Dr. John Vitale: Well, mouthguards for braces have a different function than your mouthguard for sports. Obviously, a mouthguard for sports protects your teeth in a manner so that if you get hit with some sort of an impact blow your teeth remain kind of stable. Orthodontic mouthguards, again, have a different function. They protect your teeth or your braces from your gum tissue and your tissue on the inside of your mouth so that you don’t cut your gum tissue with the braces being present. They are generally a softer, moldable type of appliance that one can wear.

Why do some people need mouthguards for sleeping?

Dr. John Vitale: There are a number of reasons, but the primary reason is for bruxism. Some people really brux the hell out of their teeth when they’re sleeping and they wear their teeth down; they cause sensitivity and even some fractures of cusps. By placing a night guard in your mouth and allowing your teeth to rub against the mouthguard rather than the opposing arch helps tremendously with bruxism.

How do people decide which type of mouthguard to get and how do they know it fits properly?

Dr. John Vitale: Well, I’m a firm believer that any mouthguard that a person wears should be gotten at a dental office. I’m not an advocate of buying one over the counter where you go home and put it in hot water and mold it to your mouth, because you have special needs. Everybody has a different need regarding a mouthguard and your dentist is the only real qualified person to figure that out for you and put you in the right direction.

Can mouthguards be custom made, and what would be the process for getting one made?

Dr. John Vitale: Yeah, the ones in the dental office, they are all custom made. It is a rather simple procedure. What the dentist would do, we’d take upper and lower impressions, we call them primary impressions in the mouth and take a bite registration, pour the models up and then we have machines in our office that make some types of night guards. Others we would send the models out to a laboratory and have them made by professional lab technicians. In both cases you are getting a much better product.

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