OCCLUSAL Guards and Athletic Mouth Guards
Occlusal Guards , also known as bite splint or orthotic, are removable devices that fit over the teeth and are used to help prevent the wearing down of teeth during sleep due to night time grinding and clenching. Sometimes these guards are also worn during the day if the patient’s problems are more serious than just the average teeth grinding problems.
Who Needs an Occlusal Guard?
If you wake up and do not feel rested, you have a headache or a toothache, or you have jaw joint pain, or if during a routine dental examination your dentist notices that your teeth have been ground down to a more flattened surface than should be normal, you may be prescribed an occlusal guard. Often times, your teeth may start loosening and you will feel pain in your gums because of clenching your teeth too much.
Occlusal guards professionally custom made can be used to protect your teeth including crowns and veneers, joints and jaw muscles. They serve as preventative measure against more serious problems caused by long-term teeth grinding. An occlusal analysis will determine the proper diagnosis and treatment recommendation. These devices reduce harmful biting forces and are easy for you to insert and remove.
If these symptoms are left unchecked and continue too long without being taken care of, more dental problems, such a fractured teeth and tooth loss, will likely occur and will be much more costly in the long run.
Athletic sport Guards
The bet sports guard, based on research evidence, remains one that is custom designed and made by a dental professional with the athlete’s individual needs taken into account. It allows the dentist to address questions at a “pre-season” screening or dental examination. The age of a child or adolescent athlete and the possibility of providing space for erupting teeth and jaws, can be accommodated with a custom-made guard. Even the very best over the counter products (mouth-formed protectors “boil-and-bite” or stock mouth guards) cannot insure quality and effectiveness.
Custom mouth guards are made from exact and precise models of an individual’s own teeth; are made of resilient and tear resistant materials ensuring a proper fit; are comfortable, easy to clean, and do not restrict breathing. A properly fitted mouthguard must be protective, comfortable, resilient, tear resistant, odorless, tasteless, not bulky and have excellent retention, fit, and sufficient thickness in critical areas.
A “thermoplastic” material (thermo-heat, plastic-moldable), usually EVA is adapted over the model with a vacuum machine; the mouthguard is then trimmed and polished to allow for proper tooth and gum adaptation. All back teeth should be covered and muscle attachments not impinged upon.
More recent studies suggest that the use of a more accurate pressure “thermo-forming” machine for the fabrication of multiple layered or laboratory pressure laminated (layered) mouthguard, are much more preferable to the single layer vacuum mouthguards. Laminated guards should last for at least 2 years for an adult with normal use. Each athlete should be evaluated individually for thickness and design to promote comfort and sufficient protection. The thicker materials (3-4mm) are not bulky and uncomfortable, but are more effective in absorbing impact energy. The thinner materials show marked deformation at the site of impact.
Here are some statistics from leading dental institutions:
- An athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing a mouthguard. -American Dental Association –
- It is estimated that mouthguards prevent more than 200,000 injuries each year. -Academy of General Dentistry-
- Sports-related dental injuries account for more than 600,000 emergency room visits each year! -U.S. Centers for Disease Control –
- Victims of knocked out teeth who do not have a tooth properly preserved or replanted may face lifetime dental costs of $10,000 to $20,000 per tooth. -National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety-
For any questions regarding which mouth guard is best for you, please contact us Fort Mill Office Phone Number 803-547-7779.