Mouth guards, also known as mouthpieces, gum shields, and bite splints are protective devices for the mouth. Mouth guards are mainly worn by athletes to prevent injuries during sports that require physical contact between players. They are also used for certain dental treatments and for extra protection after oral medical procedures. The concept of wearing a protective mouth guard was popularized in boxing during the late 18th century.
Following are some of the interesting facts about mouth guards and their use over the years.
1. History of Mouth Guards
There are no clear records about the exact origin of wearing protective devices that cover the gums and teeth to reduce injury. It is generally believed that the sport of boxing was the reason for the widespread usage of mouth guards. In the beginning, boxers used a variety of improvised guards for the mouth such as cotton, tapes and even pieces of wood. In 1982, a British dentist designed a professionally approved mouth guard for boxers using natural rubber resin as the primary material. During the 50s and 60s, mouth guards were added as a requirement for organized contact sports like boxing and football.
2. How They Work
To put it simply, a properly worn mouth guard works as an extra protective layer over your teeth, or “cushions the blow”. Heavy blows to your teeth can damage the nerves and cause eventual tooth loss. Wearing a mouth guard helps reduce the impact to your teeth, lips, tongue, gums and other soft tissues of your mouth when it comes to strong physical contact. In regard to contact sports, mouth guards are only worn on the top layer of the teeth. Your Calgary dentist may recommend a bottom layer guard if the mouthpiece is worn as a method of extra protection for dental procedures.
3. Usage of Mouth Guards
The most common use of mouth guards is as a protective device against dental trauma in contact sports such as boxing, football, baseball, and mixed martial arts. Apart from reducing the impact to the teeth and gums, mouth guards also prevent the risk of concussions that occur due to heavy blows on the jaw area. It is also widely used as a protector or tool of treatment in oral medicine practices. There are some oral joint disorders which can be managed with the prolonged use of a properly worn mouthpiece. They are also used for dental aesthetic practices such as an applicator for tooth bleaching products and protecting porcelain bridges.
4. Different Types
There are a few different types of mouth guards available. The most common and the most affordable type is the ready made mouthpieces that can be bought at stores. There are only a few options when it comes to sizes and shapes of these mouth guards, but they work effectively for short term or minor protection purposes.
There are also “boil and bite” mouth guards made of a thermoplastic material for a closer fit. The material becomes flexible when heated and biting on them creates a snug mold of the teeth that is comfortable and safer to wear. When it comes to more professional use, there are custom-made mouth guards that give the perfect fit with the use of technology such as 3D imaging.
Regular cleaning and the proper storing of mouth guards are important for its durability. It is recommended to use cool water, mild soap, and a toothbrush to clean the mouthpiece. Storing of the mouth guard should be done in a perforated container, without exposing it to high temperatures since that can affect the fit of the mouth guard. It is also important to schedule regular visits to your dental clinic in Calgary so they can conduct a professional inspection of the device’s condition.