There are certain parts of our anatomies that are slightly more vulnerable than others, and it’s safe to say that for people who take part in physical activity and exertion, the teeth are certainly up there.
We of course need our teeth to chew our food and to assist with the digestion process, but they’re also very important for people simply looking to enjoy an aesthetic smile. If the teeth become damaged, cracked, chipped, misaligned, or even knocked out completely, this will obviously lead to a great deal of discomfort and concern.
Thankfully there are preventative measures which can be put in place, namely the use of mouthguards. But what exactly is a mouthguard, is it the same as a retainer, and can a mouthguard work as a retainer?
Read on to find out.
What is a mouthguard?
We’ve spoken about the importance of mouthguards and we’ve briefly looked at some of the dangers our teeth can face, but what are mouthguards and how can they help?
A mouthguard is a simple dental contraption that is designed to be worn in the mouth over the teeth and the gums to help protect them from blows and trauma during sports and physical activity that would normally cause them damage, or even potentially knock them out.
Mouthguards are firm, yet fairly soft and allow for plenty of movement in the mouth, meaning that they’re not very constricting.
Mouthguards can be cheap and basic, or you can spend a little more, speak to a professional dentist and have a custom dental mouthguard made specifically for your mouth, whereby it will last years if you look after it.
What is a retainer?
People often confuse mouthguards with retainers and wonder if a mouthguard works as a retainer. Well, we’ll get to that a little later on, but first, let’s take a better look at what a retainer actually is.
A retainer is a very thin oral contraption that fits into the mouth similarly to a mouthguard. The main difference, though, is that a retainer’s job is NOT to protect the teeth, but rather, to help to keep them straight and aligned and in place.
Typically, people who use retainers will do so after they have had braces removed. Invisalign, or other similar orthodontic procedures and treatments designed to straighten the teeth, which, ironically, can lead to misalignment of the teeth.
Retainers are designed primarily to be worn at night when you sleep, though experts recommend that patients wear them for a minimum of 12 hours per night to ensure that they do their job and help straighten and align the teeth.
Can a mouthguard be worn as a retainer?
Despite looking very similar, and despite both serving similar purposes, a mouthguard and a retainer are very different and consequently, they cannot be interchanged with one another.
Mouthguards cannot be worn as retainers because they’re designed to protect the teeth. Retainers are designed to be worn after orthodontic treatment and are designed basically to help straighten and align the teeth following dental procedures.
Mouthguards are too soft and flexible and will not hold the teeth in place like a custom made dental retainer would. If you want to protect your teeth, a mouthguard is fine. If you want to straighten your teeth however, you’ll need a dental retainer.
Will night guards help keep the teeth in place?
Okay, so we know that mouthguards can’t be used instead of retainers, but how about night guards?
Night guards are designed to be worn at night, and are primarily designed to protect the teeth from damage caused by bruxism (grinding and clenching of the teeth and jaw). With that said however, night guards can be used in certain circumstances, at least, as a temporary fix.
If you invest in a hard night guard, you’ll find that it is rigid and secure enough to hold the teeth in place and to keep them aligned.
While a firm night guard will not function as efficiently as a set of retainers, it is certainly better than nothing and will certainly keep you going until you can speak to your dentist and see about ordering a custom retainer.
Contact Dental Armour today
If you’re concerned your teeth may be misaligned, or if you just want to keep them comfortable and protected when you play sports, make sure to get in touch with the friendly team at Dental Armour today.
We offer numerous mouthguards and can build you a custom retainer in no time at all, meaning your teeth will be protected, and will also look great too.