A custom mouthguard can be made to protect tooth structures from a variety of sources of trauma and damage. Dr. Ken Schweifler provides custom mouthguards to the public as a dental service. He can work with you to create a custom-fitted mouthguard for your tooth protection needs in our Los Altos dentist office. Mouthguards can be worn for a variety of reasons:
- Sports mouthguards: Dr. Schweifler highly recommends that active patients of all ages who participate in contact sports wear a sports mouthguard. Designed to protect the teeth and gums from trauma, a custom sports mouthguard can be made for you using your unique dental impressions. This offers a superior fit and protection when compared to over-the-counter options readily available. We offer custom sports mouthguards for children and adults and require a brief visit for impressions to be taken.
- Teeth grinding: a mouthguard or nightguard may be recommended to prevent damage from teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Patients with teeth that are flat, worn, chipped, or cracked may be grinding their teeth during sleep or when stressed. Dr. Schweifler has advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorders and bite problems, common causes of teeth grinding. A mouthguard can be designed to help the jaw relax into a natural position to minimize muscle tension. The guard also protects the teeth surfaces from possible damage from teeth grinding and clenching.
If you or your child plays a contact sport or you think you may be grinding your teeth, schedule a visit with Dr. Schweifler. Our team will work with you to evaluate your needs and address them with personalized dental care. Repair tooth damage, align an uneven bite, and use a mouthguard to keep your smile looking its best.
Sports Mouthguards Vs. Nightguards
If you have a mouthguard for one of these conditions, it’s tempting to try and use it to take care of both of them. But you shouldn’t use either mouthguard for anything but their distinct purpose. Sports mouthguards are made of a lighter, bulkier material designed to absorb shocks. It’s meant to protect your teeth from the trauma of a blow while you’re playing. If you use it for teeth grinding, the teeth will work their way through the material. You’ll damage both the mouthguard and your teeth.
Teeth-grinding nightguards are a thinner, harder plastic material. It prevents the teeth from grinding together, wearing them down, or chipping them. This material isn’t designed to absorb any shocks. If you get hit while wearing this during sports, it’ll almost be the same as not wearing a mouthguard at all. You’re at risk of breaking or knocking out a tooth.
Taking Care of Your Mouthguard
You have to take good care of your mouthguard so that it continues to do its job properly. If you don’t clean it properly, a warm, wet mouthguard is a perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria. These bacteria can make you seriously sick or can even kill you. It also has to be clean so that it stays in good condition to properly do its job.
Every time you wear the mouthguard, rinse it off immediately after. Use warm water, but not hot. Hot water can warp the plastic the guard is made of. Each day, lightly brush the mouthguard with a soft toothbrush and mild antibacterial soap. Don’t use toothpaste, as this contains abrasive properties that can scratch and damage the guard. Scratches in the mouthguard make it easier for bacteria to thrive.
Get into a good habit of deep cleaning your mouthguard each week. The easiest way to do this is by using an over-the-counter denture cleaner. Follow the instructions provided to ensure it’s clean. If you don’t have access to this, you can do the same with mouthwash diluted with water or hydrogen peroxide in vinegar. If there are lingering bacteria, this deep clean gets rid of them.
We’ll provide a ventilated carrying case for you to keep your mouthguard in when you’re not using it. Keep it clean to provide a safe home for your mouthguard. Wait 15-20 minutes after you clean your mouthguard to put it in the case. You want it to be dry before putting it in an enclosed space. A ventilated case ensures that it stays dry and has a safe place so that you don’t lose it.
Why shouldn’t I just buy a boil-and-bite mouthguard from the store?
A mouthguard made from a dentist office will provide much better protection for your teeth compared to a store-bought one. A custom-made sports mouthguard is made from impressions of your teeth and will therefore fit perfectly in your mouth. They also provide more cushion upon impact, reducing the amount of trauma to your teeth and mouth.
Will a mouthguard cure my teeth grinding?
No, a mouthguard will simply provide protection for your teeth at night. They are necessary to use nightly until you can learn the reason you grind your teeth and can figure out a way to stop it.
I wear braces. Can I get a custom mouthguard made?
Yes! In fact, people who wear braces or have dental restorations are encouraged to wear custom-made mouthguards. If your braces or restoration become damaged, it will be very expensive to fix. Also, braces have been known to cause severe lacerations in the mouth. Wearing a mouthpiece when you have braces is extremely important if you participate in contact sports or suffer from teeth grinding.
How long does a custom mouthguard last?
Depending on how well you take care of it and how heavily you use it, a custom mouthguard can last anywhere from one year to five years. For a sports mouthguard, we recommend replacing it before every new sports season. We want to ensure that you have the best protection to deal with any hits.
Can a custom mouthguard shift your teeth?
No, a custom mouthguard isn’t tight enough to shift your teeth. Ones that aren’t custom may actually shift your teeth because they aren’t fitted to your smile specifically. The pressure that they apply to the teeth can move the teeth to fit better to the mouthguard. A custom one is tailored to your current smile, being just tight enough so that it can stay in the mouth without you clenching your teeth.
How often should you clean a sports mouthguard?
You should clean your sports mouthguard before and after every use. Do not use hot water to clean your mouthguard, as this can warp the plastic. Use cool or lukewarm water and soap to remove bacteria from your mouthguard. You may also use an alcohol-free mouthwash to clean your sports mouthguard.