• August 1, 2023
  • Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh

The Importance of Mouthguards in Protecting Your Teeth

Using a mouth guard is crucial in various situations, from engaging in contact sports to preventing teeth from grinding during sleep. These devices play a pivotal role in dental safety, primarily by acting as a protective barrier for your upper teeth. In our latest blog post, we cover everything you need to know about different types of mouthguards.

The Role of Mouthguards in Dental Safety

Mouthguards are specially designed devices to help shield your teeth from various forms of harm. They work by distributing the force of an impact more evenly across your teeth, thus preventing chipped or broken teeth, and in some instances, even safeguarding the lower jaw.

They are particularly beneficial for those with a tendency towards teeth clenching and grinding teeth, as these habits can result in severe dental issues over time.

The Dangers of Not Using a Mouthguard

Opting to skip wearing a mouthguard when it’s needed can have dire consequences. This could lead to anything from damaged orthodontic devices to severe grinding, leading to broken teeth. Furthermore, not using a mouthguard can exacerbate symptoms of mild sleep apnea and result in jaw pain due to excessive teeth grinding.

Different Types of Mouthguards

There’s a variety of mouthguards available in the market today. The primary ones are stock mouthguards, boil-and-bite mouthguards, and custom-made mouthguards. Each type has its own unique features and is suitable for different needs.

Stock Mouthguards

Stock mouthguards are ready-to-wear devices that can typically be found in sporting goods stores. They are pre-formed and come in limited sizes. While they are the most cost-effective option, they may not provide an exact fit. This could affect comfort and possibly hinder breathing and speaking.

Boil-and-Bite Mouthguards

Boil-and-bite mouthguards offer a more personalised fit compared to stock variants. As the name suggests, they are made pliable by immersing them in hot water and then placed over the upper teeth to shape. Despite being slightly more expensive than stock mouthguards, they are a popular choice due to their relatively good fit and availability.

Custom-Fit Mouthguards

Custom mouthguards offer the highest level of comfort and protection. They are designed and fabricated by a dental professional based on an exact mould of your teeth. Although custom-made mouthguards are the most expensive option, they provide the best fit and thus, the most effective protection.

types of mouthguards

Custom mouthguards offer the best protection, comfort, and fit.

Choosing the Right Mouthguard for Your Needs

Depending on your specific requirements, whether it’s for contact sports or to address severe teeth grinding, different mouthguards may be more suitable.

Mouthguards for Contact Sports

Contact sports increase the risk of receiving blows to the face, leading to damaged, chipped, or broken teeth. Therefore, using a custom mouth guard or even a well-fitted boil-and-bite one can help protect your teeth effectively during such activities.

Night Guards for Teeth Grinding (Dental Splints or Occlusal Splints)

For individuals experiencing moderate to severe teeth grinding at night, often manifested as bruxism or teeth clenching, a custom-made mouth guard or a teeth grinding guard is often recommended. These guards help prevent the wear and tear of your teeth and alleviate associated symptoms like jaw pain and headaches.

Mouthguards for Orthodontic Protection

For those with braces or other orthodontic appliances, custom mouthguards are recommended. They can protect the soft tissues from the hard metal parts of the braces and prevent any potential injury. Mouth guards for post orthodontic treatment are called retainers.

Proper Maintenance and Care of Your Mouthguard

No matter the type, regular cleaning and appropriate care of your mouthguard are key to ensuring its longevity and effectiveness.

How to Clean

A mouthguard should be rinsed before and after each use with cold water or mouth rinse. Occasional deep cleaning with mild soap and a soft toothbrush can also keep it free of harmful bacteria.

When to Replace

Mouthguards should be replaced once they start to show signs of wear, such as thin areas or holes, as this can reduce their effectiveness. Regular check-ups with your dentist can help determine when a replacement is necessary.

types of mouthguards

Using a custom mouth guard or even a well-fitted boil-and-bite one can help protect your teeth effectively when playing contact sports.

The Pros and Cons of Different Mouthguard Types

Each type of mouth guard offers distinct advantages and drawbacks, affecting their cost, fit, comfort, and protection level.

Stock Mouthguards

Stock mouthguards are readily available and inexpensive. However, their “one-size-fits-all” approach can lead to less secure fit and reduced comfort.

Boil-and-Bite Mouthguards

Boil-and-bite mouthguards provide a better fit than stock mouthguards as they can be somewhat customised to your teeth. However, they might not offer the same level of comfort or durability as custom mouthguards.

Custom-Fit Mouthguards

Custom mouthguards offer the best protection, comfort, and fit. They can even be designed to move your lower jaw forward, potentially improving mild sleep apnea symptoms. However, they are the most expensive type and require a visit to the dentist to get an exact mould of your teeth.

In conclusion, understanding your specific needs can help you choose the right mouthguard that will effectively protect your teeth and promote your oral health.

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Below you can find our FAQs about different types of mouthguards. Contact us for more information about the procedure, or use the online form above to book an appointment.

What are the different types of mouthguards?

The different types of mouthguards include stock mouthguards, boil-and-bite mouthguards, and custom mouthguards. Stock mouthguards are ready-made while boil-and-bite variants offer a better fit. Custom mouthguards, tailored by a dental professional, offer the best fit and comfort.

What mouthguards do dentists use?

Dentists often recommend custom mouthguards. These are made from an exact mould of the patient’s mouth, providing maximum protection. They are particularly useful in preventing damage from conditions like teeth grinding.

Does the type of mouthguard matter?

Yes, the type of mouthguard does matter. Depending on the individual’s needs, whether it’s for a contact sport or nighttime teeth grinding, a specific type of mouthguard may offer better protection and comfort.

What type of night guard is best for clenching?

For clenching and moderate teeth grinding, dentists usually recommend custom-made night guards. These teeth-grinding guards are designed to perfectly fit the individual’s teeth, providing superior protection and comfort.

Please note that any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

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Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh
About The Author

Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh

Catherine-Anne is a New Zealand-qualified dentist. She holds a Masters Degree in Public Health from Sydney University and she has a broad range of experiences from working in both the public and private sector.


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