Mouthguards come in numerous forms, but all are designed to protect your teeth. Here, learn more about mouthguards, including how they work and why they’re important. You’ll also learn why dentists recommend them for certain conditions and circumstances.

A Quick Guide to Mouthguards

What Are Mouthguards & Types?

Made of plastic, mouthguards are U-shaped trays that cover the upper teeth and come in over-the-counter and custom options. Over-the-counter mouthguards include thin plastic versions that do not conform to the mouth, as well as boil-and-bite options where you heat the mouth appliance in boiling water and bite into it to create a semi-custom fit. Custom mouthguards from dentists require taking molds of your mouth to create a fit that is designed exclusively for your teeth and gum contours.

dentistWhile many mouthguards cover the upper teeth only to shield against rough sports play, others are designed to protect against bruxism, or teeth grinding. People with bruxism issues frequently grind their teeth at night while they sleep, awaking with jaw pain and headaches. A custom nighttime mouthguard, or “night guard,” creates a barrier between the teeth to avoid jaw tension, headaches, and enamel wear that can expose sensitive tooth nerves.

Why Is It Good to Have One?

Whether you play contact sports or have a teeth grinding issue, a mouthguard provides the protection you want. It helps prevent painful tooth injuries and losses that affect your smile while also shielding your upper gums from tissue damage. A quality mouthguard can also become essential if you have a serious bruxism issue or related problem such as TMJ. It helps you sleep soundly through the night instead of waking up irritable because your jaw or head hurts, or because eating and drinking certain things results in tooth sensitivities. Over time, a night guard can even curb bruxism because the jaw learns to relax.

Custom Vs. Store-Bought

Dentists do not recommend store-bought mouthguards you cannot bite into, as they are one-size-fits-all that can rub against sensitive gum and cheek tissue to potentially result in sores and infections. And while boil-and-bite guards offer a better degree of protection and probably will not rub mouth tissue, it is best to schedule a custom mouthguard fitting with your dentist. Your custom guard will fit no one’s mouth but yours to provide comfort as well as protection, regardless of why you need it. 


If a mouthguard is right for your needs, make an appointment with Bolivar Family Dental. Serving Polk County and the surrounding areas in Missouri since 2006, this dentist and staff offer after-hour emergency services in addition to general and cosmetic dentistry. Call the member of the American Dental Association today at (417) 777-8654 to schedule an appointment or review services online. Get the latest dental care tips on Facebook.