Having traumatised, damaged or ill-functioning teeth can be a painful burden. However, when our teeth are healthy and well-functioning it can be difficult to imagine them in a poor state. Protecting our teeth with common dental appliances can be a relatively easy way to prevent issues before they arise, instead of taking the painful and expensive route of fixing them after they have occurred.
Mouthguards, splints and retainers are three common and practical appliances used to keep our teeth and mouth safe and healthy in a variety of situations.
Mouthguards – Mouthguards are designed to protect the teeth, mouth and jaw against dental trauma by absorbing and spreading any force applied to the area. They are commonly used in high impact sports like rugby union, rugby league, AFL, hockey and boxing. However, even non-contact sports like cricket, basketball, netball, touch football, skateboarding and soccer carry a high risk of accidental collision resulting in dental trauma. A custom fitted mouthguard is much more effective than a generic mouthguard, however, a generic mouthguard will absorb some impact and is better than none at all.
Splints – A dental splint is most commonly used to protect teeth against the damage caused by grinding and clenching. This grinding and clenching is extremely common, usually occurs during the night and is called ‘Bruxism’. Over time, Bruxism can cause significant tooth damage, headaches, facial pain and in some cases, gum recession. Like mouthguards splints work by absorbing and redistributing the pressure plus helping to provide support and relief to painful joints. They are worn over night and work by preventing the teeth in the upper and lower arches from making contact. For some people splints can become essential for a comfortable sleep.
Retainers – Retainers are used following orthodontic treatment to stop teeth from moving back to their original position. Usually our teeth are held in position by the way we bite and chew, and by our lips, tongue and mouth. This natural position is called the ‘neutral zone’. When undergoing orthodontic treatment, we are sometimes moving the teeth outside this neutral zone. Because of this movement we need a retainer to hold our teeth in position, maintaining all the hard work completed during treatment. Retainers can either be fixed, in the form of a wide stainless-steel loop bonded to the back of the teeth (out of sight), or removable, resembling a thin, clear mouthguard. In many cases it is necessary to use a retainer for many years following orthodontic treatment.
Protecting teeth from injury, trauma and unwanted movement is an excellent way to preserve our teeth for a lifetime and is significantly less effort than fixing them after an issue arises.
To have your mouth fitted for an appliance or to find out more book a consultation with Dr Kate Amos or Dr Sam Rosehill at Ethical Dental on 6652 3185 or book online.