Good dental care isn’t just about filling cavities and performing restorative dentistry. In fact, the best dental care seeks to prevent problems before they start. This includes keeping teeth free of disease, stress, and physical harm through a variety of preventative practices. When you visit our Charlotte dental office for an exam, we will look for any sources of damage to your teeth while discussing your daily habits to ensure good oral health. In the event we see or hear something that may present a risk to your teeth, we will share any possible treatment options with you to better preserve your smile. A mouth guard, for instance, can keep teeth protected from a variety of risks. In the interest of your own smile, learn the ways in which a mouth guard is conventionally used and whether you may be a good candidate.
Mouth guards are traditionally associated with contact sports such as football, hockey, and boxing. Other sports, such as basketball or soccer, may also call for mouth guards at any level of play. No matter your age or physical activity, anything that presents a viable risk of falling or injury can seriously damage your teeth if they are not protected. More importantly, using a well-fitted and reliable mouth guard can provide clear benefits over other models.
If you are considering purchasing a mouth guard, you are likely a good candidate for one that is crafted professionally by your dentist. Store-bought stock mouth guards do not conform to your bite pattern, resulting in a clunky and uncomfortable experience that can interfere with breathing and speech during play. More importantly, a poor fit means inferior protection from all angles, especially if it pops out at a crucial moment. Even boil-and-bite mouth guards, which are meant to conform to your teeth, are not as precise or durable as a professionally crafted one. If you want an appliance that will provide the most protection, comfort, and practical benefits, ask your dentist about a customized mouth guard.
Bruxism is a condition characterized by the habitual clenching or grinding of one’s jaw, primarily during sleep. Mild cases of bruxism may result in the gradual wear of teeth, while more severe cases may result in cracked or chipped teeth. This can be especially problematic for patients who have porcelain restorations such as crowns or veneers, which are more prone to cracking under such pressure. Bruxism can also result in TMJ disorder, which is characterized by pain along the upper jaw and ear due to physical stressors.
If you believe you may suffer from bruxism, speak with your dentist. A professional exam can identify signs of teeth grinding, at which point your dentist can recommend an appropriate treatment plan. Often, a customized oral appliance, known as a night guard, can be worn at night to protect teeth from grinding together. This type of mouth guard is relatively thin and unobtrusive, allowing patients to sleep comfortably while also preserving their smile and restorations.
For some patients, a mouth guard is not just a way to protect the teeth, but also their overall well-being. Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder whereby sleeping patterns are disrupted due to airway blockage. In many cases, this is due to the position of one’s jaw or tongue as they sleep, which prevents continuous airflow and therefore disturbs rest. To counter this, a mouth guard may be crafted to prevent the tongue or jaw from slipping backward, aiding in both comfort and breathing. Consequently, patients are also able to get a better night’s rest, even minimizing the occurrence of snoring.
Sleep apnea can be difficult to diagnose, given that patients are not conscious to recognize their immediate symptoms. However, some effects of disrupted sleep can include drowsiness, depression, irritability, headaches, and difficulty focusing during the day. If you often snore in your sleep, that may be another indication of obstructive sleep apnea. To diagnose sleep apnea, consult your doctor for a more personalized and objective assessment. If you do suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, your dentist may be able to craft you a professional mouth guard as an initial treatment option.
For the right candidates, mouth guards can help prevent numerous painful and costly problems. To learn more about mouth guards or any of our preventative dentistry options, contact our office to speak with a dental professional today.