THE GUM SHIELD AND ITS IMPORTANCE
Sometimes the English language is just downright confusing. Must we have 10 variations of the same word? Is there a difference between the mouth guard and the gum shield?
A gum shield is a protective appliance or device that is used to cover the teeth and gums. It is always a good decision to protect our teeth & gums. We hear dentists and hygienists stress the importance of maintaining our teeth and gums in our daily activities to ensure we remain fit to carry out our activities efficiently. It is called gum shield because it makes the gums ,lips and teeth safe from teeth grinding or jaw clenching plus it reduces injuries in case of accidents (if used in sports like wrestling, boxing, baseball, martial arts, gymnastics, softball, handball, hockey, skating, basketball and football).
This device is fixed on the teeth of either the upper and lower jaws. The gum shield aka mouthguard helps to pad between the lower and upper teeth (which also helps in reducing the risk of concussion). This may arise when the bottom jaw slam into the upper one and rattling the skull thus causing a shock. Therefore it is always recommended that one should wear a properly fitted gum shield and make sure that it extends to the molars as it is helpful this way. It aids in prevention of teeth loss and/or biting of ones lip, tooth through the lip etc. Don’t cut the ends of your mouthguard to make it look like you have one in during games. If you find gum shields to be very uncomfortable simply get a custom made guard fitted to your dental anatomy and request for a thinner version. You can make these specific requests by ordering here. Make sure you type any details about your order into the comments section during checkout.
As mentioned above, we “the people”, like to make our own language confusing. As a result, the mouthguard has many names. They include: gum guard, gum shield, mouth piece, bite splint, bite plane, mouth protector, night guard or occlusion splint, teeth guard, dental guard, teeth protector. Some of the names are more commonly used in a medical setting (such as occlusal splint, bite splint, etc).
Mouth guards are worn to protect the teeth and the gums because of susceptible injury from teeth grinding and during sports. There exist some differences between gum shields for sports and bite splints for teeth grinding.
There are also several types of gum shields and they include;
1.Boil and bite mouth protectors. These are made from thermoplastic material. To soften, one would first placed in hot water then placed in the mouth and by use of a finger and tongue pressure shaped around teeth. These types can be purchased in many sporting good stores.
2.Stock mouth protectors. These are also sold at many sport good stores and have undergone preliminary shaping. They come ready to wear with no ability to conform to your teeth. Generally the least expensive type, many consumer complaints include “too bulky”, “makes talking and breathing a challenge” and “little can be done to adjust their fit”.Their use is therefore not recommended by most dentists.
3.Custom-fitted mouth protectors.This type is designed according to an individual based on dentist’s instructions. The dentist first makes an impression of ones teeth then a mouth guard is designed using a special material.This process is time consuming with more work involved thus more expensive than any other types but it provides the most protection and comfort. It is the best for teeth grinding as the durability is beyond compare. There are two types of custom-fitted mouth protectors and they include; a)Vacuum Form-custom made gum shields using this kind of machine that produces single layer mouth protectors.They offer more protection than boil and bite type.b)Pressure laminated-Custom made mouth guards using this type of machine produces many layers material for varying thicknesses and a tighter fit. Here is more on the different types of sports mouthguards
And! Here is another excellent article that explains the different types of night guards for teeth grinding.
Generally, gum shields cover ones upper teeth only but most dentist will make them for the lower teeth as well. A properly trained dentist can suggest the best mouth guard for one to use. An effective mouth guard should be long lasting,easy to clean,comfortable,resist tears and should not restrict one’s breathing or speech.If one grinds his or her teeth at night, a special gum shield type of dental appliance known as nocturnal bite plate or bite splint may be designed for him or her to prevent tooth damage.