What is a mouth guard and how do they work?

What Type of Mouthguard should you Use?

A mouthguard is covers worn over teeth to protect them from injuries. Mouthguards either protect your teeth from teeth grinding (bruxism) or protect from potential injuries during sports activities.

Burlington dentist - Custom mouthguard

Burlington dentist - Custom mouthguard


There are three available types of mouthguards:

  1. Stock mouthguard - there are pre-fabricated and ready to be worn right out of the package. These types of mouthguards are available at most sporting stores or pharmacies. They are inexpensive and can be easily found in the store near you. The downside to stock mouth protectors that they can not be adjusted for proper fit in the mouth, they are bulky, restrict breathing, making it difficult to talk and most importantly provide little or no protection. Dentist DO NOT recommend these type of mouthguard.

  2. Boil and bite mouthguards - these type of mouthguards can also be bought at sporting goods stores and should fit better than stock mouth protectors. Thermoplastic material allows for the protector to be placed in hot water to soften the guard, then it is placed in the mouth to be shaped around the teeth using your tongue and finger pressure.

  3. Custom made mouthguards - these mouthguards are custom fitted for each person in a dental office and then manufactured in the professional dental laboratory. First, our team member makes an impression of your teeth and gums, and a mouthguard is then moulded to fit perfectly. Due to the use of unique materials, extra work and time are required to create a custom mouthguard. This makes custom made mouthguard more expensive than other types. However, it provides the most comfort and the best protection.

In most cases, mouthguards are made to cover your upper teeth only. However, in some cases (if you are wearing braces or dentures), our dentist will make a mouthguard for lower and upper teeth.


A proper mouthguard should be comfortable to wear, should not restrict your breathing or speech, should be durable and easy to clean. Our dentist can recommend the best mouthguard for you or your child.


How to stop myself from grinding my teeth in my sleep?

If you notice that you wake up with a headache or jaw pain, you may be grinding teeth in your sleep. The best way to prevent or stop yourself from grinding teeth is to wear a custom fit mouthguards. These type of mouthguard offers protection for your teeth without obstructive sleep. These special mouthguards made from harder material called a nocturnal bite plate or bite splint and designed to prevent tooth wear and damage.

Who Needs a Mouth Guard?

Children and adults who are active and play sports such as ice hockey, football, soccer, boxing, basketball, martial arts should wear a mouthguard. Even non-contact sports such as gymnastics or recreational activity such as mountain biking or skateboarding may pose a risk of mouth injury and as a result, can benefit from wearing a protective mouthguard.

Adults and children that notice teeth grinding during sleep should wear a nightguard to prevent teeth from wear and damage.

Why Use a Mouth Guard When I am Playing Sports?

Any physical activity may lead to accidents and simply wearing a mouthguard during those activities may lower the risk of mouth-related injuries to your mouth, soft tissues, lips and tongue. A mouthguard can help to avoid tooth loss, chipped and broken teeth, or nerve damage to a tooth root.

Can I Wear a Mouth Guard with Braces?

Yes, you can. During sports activities, an injury to the face may damage braces or fixed appliances. As a result, a proper custom made mouth guard may be particularly important for people wearing braces. Our family dentist or orthodontist can help you determine the mouthguard that provides the most protection for your braces and your teeth.

How to Care for My Mouth Guard?

  • Make sure to clean your mouthguard before and after each use with cold water or with a mouth rinse. You can use mild soap and a toothbrush to get a good cleaning.

  • Keep your mouthguard in a firm, breathable container for storing and transporting it.

  • Try to avoid placing your mouthguard in hot water, hot surfaces or direct sunlight - this will minimize warping its shape.

  • Occasionally check for general wear and bring it to your regular dentist appointment to have it checked by the dentist.

  • If you find tears, holes or discomfort when wearing it - it might be time to change it.

Sleep Apnea and your Mouth

People who experience sleep apnea may sleep with their mouth open at night and may wake up more frequently as a result of a dry mouth.

When your mouth is dry, you lack saliva in your mouth, which helps to fight off bacteria. Dry mouth can lead to an increase of bacteria in your mouth and on your teeth. This can lead to tooth decay known as caries. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) identified several reasons that may lead to bruxism (teeth grinding): stress, anxiety, sleep apnea, alcohol, drugs consumption, cigarettes and caffeine. Specific prescription medication, drugs such as amphetamines may lead to teeth grinding and eventually tooth wear.

Is a Mouth Guard Necessary for Sleep Apnea?

Is a mouth guard necessary for sleep apnea? No, you do not require a mouthguard to treat sleep apnea. However, it helps. The specialized mouthguard adjusts the position of your tongue and your lower jaw by moving it in a forward position, which keeps airways open during your sleep. This allows for more continuous airflow in your mouth.

This type of mouthguard is called a mandibular advancement device. It looks very similar to a regular mouthguard, as it connects to upper and lower teeth arches. This dental appliance helps not only to adjust the position of your jaw but also prevents teeth grinding.

If you looking for a Burlington dentist that can make you or your child a custom made mouthguard, we can help at Lakefront Family Dental. Call or email us to schedule your appointment.