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Oral Care

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Mouth Guards for Sports - Topic Overview

Mouth guards are U-shaped pieces of plastic that fit between the upper and lower teeth, protectively molding around the upper teeth. Use of a mouth guard can prevent dental and jaw injury during sports. Dental injury may lead to misalignment of the teeth (malocclusion). Although some amateur sports, such as football, field hockey, ice hockey, lacrosse, and boxing, require the use of mouth guards, dentists recommend mouth guard use in any sport that may cause dental injury.

Different types of mouth guards are available.

Recommended Related to Oral Health

Sensitive Subject: Sensitive Teeth

One zing to the nerve of a tooth after a sip or bite of food is enough to send even the hungriest bear running from the kitchen. Sensitive teeth can seriously limit the enjoyment of your favorite fare. So if ice cream meeting your tooth has you seeing stars, the layer beneath the surface of your tooth (called dentin) has become exposed, says Eric Sung, DDS, professor at UCLA's School of Dentistry. This happens when the hard outer covering of a tooth -- enamel above the gum line and cementum on the...

Read the Sensitive Subject: Sensitive Teeth article > >

  • Preformed "stock" mouth guards offer some protection but are bulky and make talking and breathing difficult. These must be clenched between the teeth at all times. They are sold in most sporting goods stores and don't cost much.
  • "Boil-and-bite" mouth guards are a good choice for children who are losing and growing teeth and have an ever-changing bite. They are made of a thermoplastic material that softens when boiled and will then mold around the teeth when bitten down on. Boil-and-bite mouth guards are less bulky than stock guards, are typically more comfortable, and are not expensive. They are available in sporting goods stores.
  • Custom-fit mouth guards, made by a dentist, use thermoplastic material. These guards offer the best fit and comfort. But they are expensive.
  • Orthodontic treatment mouth guards (for braces and other appliances) are loose-fitting and protect the mouth from appliance-related injury during sports and other activities.

Mouth guards are meant to protect the teeth and mouth. They don't prevent gradual tooth movement.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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