sports guardAt Dental Associates of West MI, we are often asked about different types of mouth guards. Typically the conversation comes up during a routine dental visit, or in a phone call to schedule an appointment before the beginning of a sport’s season. Sometimes a patient asks about mouth guards during an emergency dental visit, and that is a situation we would like to prevent.

There are various names for dental appliances known as mouth
guards, and, more importantly, different purposes – primarily either to prevent grinding your teeth, or to protect your teeth during sports.

  • A bite guard (also known by various names such as a bite splint or a night guard) is often used to prevent bruxism, or tooth grinding. The bite guard typically fits onto your upper jaw, and is designed to fit the bottom teeth as well into a comfortable position. These appliances are typically worn at night, and can provide welcome relief from jaw pain, headaches, and worn and cracked teeth. If you have issues with tooth grinding, talk to your dentist about whether a bite guard could help you.
  • A sports guard is designed to help prevent injuries to the mouth and
    jaw, such as broken teeth and cuts to the lips, face, and gums. A sports guard typically fits over the top teeth, and may have a strap to attach it to a helmet, depending on the sport. Sports guards are standard gear in contact sports like boxing, lacrosse, hockey, and football. Sports guards are also becoming increasingly common in all kinds of other activities, from volleyball to skateboarding.


For both types of mouth guards, there are over-the-counter options, as well as custom fitted appliances that your dentist can create. The benefit of the custom fitted mouth guard is that the custom fit ensures a more comfortable device – and a comfortable guard is much more likely to be worn. In addition, a custom mouth guard should improve your ability to talk and breathe.

For sports guards in particular, a custom fitted device can provide the best possible protection from injury. After all, the goal of a sports guard is to help prevent an emergency dental visit. In the event you do have a dental emergency, though, see Dental Associates of West Michigan’s dental emergency advisories.

Whether you need a bite guard or a sports guard, Dental Associates of West MI can recommend the best approach for your needs. If you’d like to know more about the type of mouth guard that would work best for you, contact Dental Associates of West MI.

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