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Mouthguards are removable dental appliances designed to cover and protect your teeth. We may recommend a mouthguard for various reasons, and they can benefit children and adults. Most mouthguards fit over the upper teeth, but occasionally, we may suggest having a mouthguard to protect your lower teeth as well.

Table of contents

When Might I Need a Mouthguard?

You may need a mouthguard in the following situations:

  1. Teeth grinding and clenching (bruxism).
  2. While playing contact sports like football, boxing, hockey, or basketball.
  3. Participating in activities with a risk of a blow to the mouth, for example, ice-skating.
  4. Obstructive sleep apnea.
  5. TMJ disorder.

Are there Different Types of Mouthguards?

Different types are available; our recommendation will depend on why you need a mouthguard.

Types of Mouthguards

Sports Mouthguards

Our sports mouthguards are made from a tough thermoplastic material that is neutral tasting and comes in various colors so you can customize your look. Each mouthguard is thickened in critical areas to provide maximum protection and is comfortable to wear.

Bruxism and TMJ Disorders

Some people clench and grind their teeth subconsciously. The pressure created can wear down teeth substantially and also cause gum recession. In the worst case, teeth may become loose.

TMJ disorders are often related to bruxism as the act of clenching and grinding your teeth places the jaw joints, called temporomandibular joints, under considerable stress. As a result, they become inflamed, and moving or opening your jaw can be painful. TMJ disorder can also cause other unpleasant symptoms like headaches, facial pain, tinnitus, and neck pain. Wearing a nightguard can help reduce the effects of TMJ disorder.

Mouthguards for Bruxism and TMJ Disorders

Mouthguards for bruxism and TMJ disorders are also called night guards because bruxism tends to be a nocturnal habit, which is why it is so damaging for teeth and gums. However, some people also clench and grind during the daytime and may need to wear their bruxism mouthguard during the day.

The mouthguard is made from a strong, clear plastic material that is neutral tasting. It ensures that your lower teeth grind harmlessly against the night guard if you clench and grind your teeth during sleep. Some people will only need to wear a bruxism mouthguard for a short while, which is enough to break the habit. Others may need to wear theirs in the longer term.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Snoring and sleep apnea may be relieved by wearing a mouthguard. The most common form of sleep apnoea is obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

What Is OSA?

OSA is caused when the throat muscles that hold open the airway relax during sleep and collapse inward, either partially or completely obstructing breathing.

It is characterized by loud snores punctuated by pauses in breathing. A person with OSA can stop breathing for seconds until the brain registers the drop in oxygen levels and prompts the body to restart breathing. Usually, breathing restarts with a loud gasp or snort.

OSA is a potentially harmful condition that increases the risk of health problems like heart disease and high blood pressure. OSA can also cause excessive daytime sleepiness, so people with this condition may be less safe to operate machinery or drive.

OSA Mouthguards

Someone with OSA will normally need a sleep study to diagnose whether they have mild, moderate, or serious OSA. Serious OSA is often treated with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, where someone wears a small mask during sleep that pumps a continuous supply of pressurized air, helping to open the airway.

A sleep apnea mouthguard can frequently treat mild-to-moderate cases of sleep apnea. It can also help people with more serious OSA and who may struggle to use a CPAP machine successfully. The mouthguard works by placing the lower jaw slightly forward, preventing the tongue from falling backward and obstructing the airway. The mouthguard helps to hold the airway open.

What Is the Procedure for a Mouthguard?

If our adult or pediatric dentist recommends a mouthguard, the procedure is very straightforward. We take a digital dental impression using a hand-held wand, which is quick, precise, and non-invasive. The impression is sent to our dental lab, where our technician will fabricate your mouthguard to fit over your teeth exactly. The mouthguard is made to our prescription and can take up to two weeks to fabricate.

Once the mouthguard is ready, you return to our dental office so we can check its fit and ensure you feel comfortable. We will also show you how to insert and remove it and how to take care of your mouthguard.

When you start to wear your mouthguard, it may feel slightly strange, but please persevere; it should soon feel natural to wear.

Will My Mouthguard Fit over Braces or Dental Implants?

If you currently wear braces or have restorations like implants, we can custom-design your mouthguard to fit over them comfortably and securely.

Looking after Your Mouthguard

It’s crucial to look after your mouthguard properly and clean it thoroughly after each use. We will explain how to clean it properly and store it in the case provided, away from direct heat that could distort it. Please keep it away from pets who might think it makes a great chew toy.

How Long Will My Mouthguard Last?

We ask you to bring your mouthguard to each dental checkup so our dentist can assess it and ensure it still fits properly and isn’t too worn. With the right care, your mouthguard should last quite a while, but a child’s mouthguard will need replacing periodically. This is because their teeth and jaws are still developing.

Will Dental Insurance Cover the Cost of My Mouthguard?

Some dental insurance policies cover part or all of the cost of a custom-made mouthguard, but the coverage does vary. A custom-made mouthguard does not cost very much and has the potential to save you thousands of dollars in restorative dentistry over your lifetime.

Your natural teeth are precious, and custom mouthguards provide the best protection against injury or tooth loss. Unlike over-the-counter mouthguards, they are comfortable to wear and do not hinder breathing. When dental appliances are comfortable, it is a lot easier to get into the habit of wearing them regularly.

When you visit My New Jersey Dentist for a mouthguard, we can discuss all types available and suggest the best one for your needs.

Page Updated on May 24, 2024 by Dr. Victoria Kushensky, DDS (Dentist) of My New Jersey Dentist
Victoria Kushensky D.D.S

My name is Victoria Kushensky. I am a general dentist dedicated to remaining at the forefront of my field. Combining compassionate care with extensive knowledge, I offer cosmetic and general dentistry services as well as advanced root canal treatments.

I earned my Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the esteemed New York University College of Dentistry. Throughout my career, I have honed my skills in various dental procedures, ensuring effective treatment for each patient’s unique needs. I prioritize patient comfort and understanding, taking the time to thoroughly explain procedures and address any questions.

More about Dr. Kushensky

My NJ Dentist: Victoria Kushensky, DDS
385 Prospect Ave Suite 304
Hackensack, NJ 07601
(201) 298-8000