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What Are Custom Mouth Guards?

By Valerie Goldberg
Updated May 17, 2024
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Custom mouth guards are protective devices worn over teeth. These guards are most commonly used to protect people from sports injuries. Non-athletes who grind their teeth also may benefit from wearing custom mouth guards. While there are ready-made mouth guards sold in sporting goods stores, a custom mouth guard is molded by a dentist to ensure that it fits properly.

A person interested in having a custom mouth guard made should make a dentist appointment. A dentist will take an impression of the person's teeth so the guard precisely fits the size and shape of the person's mouth and teeth. Custom mouth guards are made of advanced materials and provide better protection than a standard store-bought mouth guard. They also are easier to talk with and breathe in while wearing.

It is important for athletes to wear custom mouth guards, especially if they play high-contact sports such as football, boxing, hockey or basketball. Mouth guards protect the teeth from being damaged or knocked out completely. Wearing a mouth guard also can help a person prevent other injuries, such as a concussion or lockjaw. A person's lips, mouth and tongue also are safer when he or she is wearing a mouth guard.

All athletes can benefit from wearing mouth guards, but it is especially important for child and teen athletes to do so. Sports involving young athletes are more likely to have players wearing braces on their teeth than games played by adult athletes. Young people with braces should always have a custom mouth guard, even though they are more expensive than the sports store models. Non-custom mouth guards will not properly protect teeth with braces. Most custom mouth guards come in a variety of colors, so parents can ask their dentists to make one in their child's favorite shade to encourage frequent wear.

Chronic teeth grinders can benefit from sleeping in custom mouth guards. If a person grinds his or her teeth too frequently, then it can cause health problems and severe tooth damage. Wearing a mouth guard at night can save a person from having to have expensive dental work done or from grinding his or her teeth down to the point where the teeth will need to be replaced by dentures. Severe teeth grinding also can cause harm to a person's jaw, hearing function and appearance. A mouth guard will act as a buffer to save a person's teeth while he or she seeks counseling or other treatment to attempt to permanently stop the teeth grinding.

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