Guarding Your Mouth and Gums

Our Harker Heights dental practice can help with your mouthguard needs, whether you play a sport or suffer from a sleep disorder.

Most people think about playing sports like football or hockey when they think about needing a mouthguard. But there are other dental applications where mouthguards are used to protect your teeth from getting damaged. There are a variety of mouthguards available, and while educating yourself is helpful, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your dentist to discuss what type of mouthguard suits your needs, and to be properly fitted.


Mouthguards should be used in any sport where your head is at risk for contact, not just your mouth. Think about soccer, for example, where heading a ball could cause you to bite your lip or tongue; or gymnastics, where tumbling can bring your head in contact with the floor mat. There are three basic types of mouthguards you can get for athletic activity:

  • Stock: An inexpensive option available in most stores that sell sporting goods. We do not recommend purchasing this type of guard. They are basically “one-size-fits-all,” and most people find them uncomfortable to wear. They even affect some people’s ability to breathe and swallow. Worse, they offer very little actual protection for your teeth.
  • Boil-and-Bite: These over-the-counter models are more comfortable and offer slightly better protection than the stock mouthguard. After immersing it in hot water, the plastic material softens to enable you to shape it around your teeth.
  • Custom-fit: Designed by a dentist to fit your individual mouth, this type offers maximum comfort and significantly better protection, according to studies.

If you wear braces or have a fixed bridge, a custom-fit mouthguard is essential, as the boil-and-bite type could damage the apparatus.

Teeth Grinding

Researchers estimate that roughly 1 in 5 people grind their teeth, either when they are awake or asleep. The condition, also called Bruxism, can affect the bone, nerves, and muscles in and around your mouth if left untreated. Where mouthguards used in sports might only cover the upper teeth, we may recommend a bite plate or splint to help protect the other parts of your mouth against the effects of bruxism. Mouthguards can be custom-made to fit comfortably in the mouths of adults or children, helping maintain normal sleeping patterns.

Sleep Apnea

A mouthguard may help people suffering milder forms of sleep apnea, or if they don’t respond well to, or experience side effects from, treatment by continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). A mandibular advancement device (MAD) is the most common oral appliance. This custom-fitted mouthguard is equipped with a hinge that eases your lower jaw forward, allowing for unobstructed breathing while you sleep. An alternative to the MAD is a splint that holds your tongue in a position that keeps the airway open. We consider a variety of factors when recommending either type of device for treating sleep apnea, including the severity of the airway obstruction, the frequency and loudness of your snoring, and what positions you typically sleep in.

Caring for Mouthguards

In order to properly care for your mouthguard, ensure that you:

  • Store your mouthguard in a case when not in use. The container should be durable enough to prevent damage to the device and be well-ventilated to prevent bacteria build-up.
  • Never leave your mouthguard exposed to direct sunlight or warm temperatures for prolonged periods of time.
  • Rinse your mouthguard in soapy water before and after each use. You can also brush your mouthguards with a tooth brush and tooth paste.

Replacing Mouthguards

Mouthguards wear out over time, especially the ones you buy in sporting goods stores. Inspect them regularly to ensure they still fit comfortably and haven’t cracked or chipped in a way that leaves your teeth exposed to damage. Finally, always bring your mouthguard with you during dental check-ups. We will give it a thorough inspection and cleaning to ensure that you get the most out of your device. As your Harker Heights dentistry practice, we can design a custom mouthguard suitable for your dental and lifestyle needs. Please contact us anytime with questions about this service or to schedule an appointment.

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