The 10 Best Dental Guards
This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in September of 2015. Once you get past puberty, you've only got one set of pearly whites to get you through the rest of your life, so protecting them against damage is a good idea. Whether you have a tendency to grind your teeth at night or participate in high-impact sports, these dental guards will keep your smile in great shape and provide welcome relief from the discomforts of bruxism, TMJ and related conditions. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best dental guard on Amazon.
Protecting Those Chompers
Custom-made dental guards are the most comfortable and desirable type available.
Dental guards are classified into three types: stock or ready-made, boil-and-bite, and custom-made.
Regardless of whether you're an athlete, experiencing jaw problems, or having aesthetic enhancement work completed, a dental guard can keep your teeth protected. Also referred to as a night or mouth guard, the dental guard is typically a flexible and custom-fitted protective device that fully covers a person's teeth and gums to prevent or reduce the chances for injury.
Dental guards are classified into three types: stock or ready-made, boil-and-bite, and custom-made. Stock dental guards are sold as over-the-counter solutions available in pre-formed sizes and are usually the least expensive of all three types. Because they are purchased pre-formed, there is no customization available with the exception of minor trimming with a knife or scissors. For that reason, they do not always fit perfectly and have the tendency to be on the bulky side.
Boil-and-bite (or mouth-adapted) dental guards are also pre-formed and available over the counter. They are made from thermoplastic materials designed to be heated, placed in the mouth, and molded to fit more closely to a person's teeth. Boil-and-bite guards are most popular among amateur and semi-professional athletes.
Custom-made dental guards are the most comfortable and desirable type available. They are professionally-crafted by specialists to exacting specifications of a person's teeth using an impression kit with dental putty that can be used either in a dentist's office or at home, depending on the user's preference. The custom dental guard is then fashioned in a lab using the impressions taken from the user's teeth.
How To Guard Your Teeth
Besides protecting teeth from high-impact exercise by acting as physical barriers, dental guards offer many other advantages. They are often used in conjunction with bleaching gel to whiten the teeth. They are also used during dental restoration procedures, such as with crown work and when installing veneers. When applying topical medications for dental conditions, the guard is useful for keeping the medicine applied to a person's teeth and gums as long as possible.
The specific application required will determine the type of dental guard one invests in.
Dental guards can also be used to treat disorders of the temporomandibular joint, particularly by alleviating pressure on the joint while reducing pain. These guards are especially useful for people who suffer from bruxism (or teeth clenching). Finally, the majority of dental guards are durable and relatively easy to keep clean.
The specific application required will determine the type of dental guard one invests in. In many cases, a guard is necessary to retain orthodontic work that has been completed (to prevent teeth from moving) as well as to prevent a person from clenching their teeth at night. For these reasons, custom-made guards are often the best choice due to their durability, flexibility, and ability to ensure a proper fit using an impression kit. Also, a custom-made guard offers one the choice of having their dentist take an impression or using the impression kit at home to accomplish this before sending it out to a lab for fabrication.
Ensuring that a dental guard is tasteless and constructed from BPA-free materials is also important. The last thing you want is to be tasting something weird in your mouth all the time. Some people are extremely sensitive to flavors, so the less foreign material that goes into your dental guard, the better off you'll be. In fact, the device should hardly be noticeable at all.
From Boxing To Bruxism: A Dental Solution That Fits
The most popular belief is that the dental guard was originally conceived for use in boxing and other high-impact sports. The earliest guards were simply small pieces of cotton, tape, sponge, or wood, which boxers would clench between their teeth. The problem with this early solution was that teeth clenching was distracting to boxers trying to focus on their opponents during a match. As an answer to this problem, British dentist Woolf Krause began producing dental guards for boxers in 1892 made from a natural rubber resin called gutta-percha.
Today, the dental guard has become synonymous with athletic safety as well as dental hygiene, protection, and restoration.
Krause's son, Philip, is generally credited with the development of the reusable dental guard, referred to as a gum shield, which was featured in a 1921 championship fight between Jack Britton and Ted Kid Lewis. Ted Lewis was a friend of the Krause family and the first professional to make use of the technology. The dental guard continued to grow in boxing relevance through the 1920s, particularly during a 1927 fight between Jack Sharkey and Mike McTigue. A chipped tooth that cut McTigue's lip forced him to forfeit the match. From that point on, the dental guard was validated as an acceptable tool for use during boxing matches.
Beginning in the 1930s, mouth guards gained mention within dental literature, particularly with respect to custom-made guards fashioned with rubber and wax impressions. Another major breakthrough occurred in 1947 when Los Angeles dentist Rodney O. Lilyquist used transparent acrylic resin to form what he called an acrylic splint. The splint was carefully molded to fit over the upper or lower teeth. This marked a significant improvement over earlier types of guards with thicker materials that boxers had been using. Constructed of thinner material, the acrylic guard provided athletes the ability to speak normally with the mouthpiece in place.
By January 1948, Lilyquist received national recognition for his dental guard when he described the procedure for making and fitting one in the Journal of the American Dental Association. By 1960, the American Dental Association recommended the use of latex dental guards for all contact sports and by 1962, all high school football players in the United States were required to wear the devices, followed by all US college students in 1973. Today, the dental guard has become synonymous with athletic safety as well as dental hygiene, protection, and restoration.
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