4 Reasons to Wear a Mouth Guard

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Mouth guards are dental devices that are used to cover your teeth.

They protect your teeth, tongue, cheeks, and gums from damage or injuries during sports or from grinding or clenching your teeth.

This article explores reasons to wear a mouth guard, as well as how to find the best-fitting mouth guard for your needs.


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There are three main types of mouth guards that are used to protect teeth: stock, boil-and-bite, and custom-made.


A stock mouth guard is the most widely available and affordable type of mouth guard. It can be purchased at most drugstores or sporting goods stores.

It comes in small, medium, and large sizes and fits over your teeth. Most stock mouth guards only cover your top teeth.

While stock mouth guards are easy to find and are inexpensive, they may not be the best solution. Due to their limited size options, they’re usually uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time and don’t provide a snug fit. This can also make it hard to talk while wearing one.


Boil-and-bite mouth guards come in one size that you customize to fit your teeth. This involves boiling the mouth guard until it softens and then placing it over your front teeth and biting down. Boil-and-bite mouth guards are sold in most drugstores and are relatively inexpensive.

To get the best fit, it is very important to follow the instructions that come with your boil-and-bite mouth guard. If you wear braces, check with your orthodontist first before trying this type of mouth guard; it's possible that the mouth guard could get stuck in your braces during the molding process.


It is possible to get a custom-made mouth guard from your dentist. Your dentist will take a mold of your teeth and use it to create a mout hguard specifically for the structure of your teeth and mouth.

A custom-made mouth guard understandably provides a much better fit than either a stock or boil-and-bite mouth guard does, which makes it more comfortable and harder to accidentally dislodge while sleeping.

If you grind your teeth, snore, or have sleep apnea, a custom-made mouth guard may be your best option. They are more expensive than over-the-counter mouth guards, but some dental insurance plans cover some or all of the cost.


Here's a look at some of the most common reasons people wear mouth guards.


The American Dental Association recommends wearing a mouth guard during sports in which collision, impact, or high-speed movement is likely, such as basketball, ice hockey, and soccer. The mouth guard can help protect against dental and mouth injuries like having a tooth break or get knocked out.

While more expensive than a stock mouth guard, a boil-and-bite mouth guard offers a better fit, which will help it stay in place. If you participate in sports frequently or are a more serious athlete, ask your dentist if a custom mouth guard is a better option.

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding and clenching are part of a sleep-related movement disorder known as bruxism. This condition can cause a variety of problems, such as tooth pain, chipped or cracked teeth, jaw pain, and sore gums.

Wearing a mouth guard while you sleep can help keep your top and bottom teeth separated, thus protecting them from damage.

A custom mouth guard is usually the best type for bruxism. Stock mouth guards are uncomfortable to sleep with, and boil-and-bite mouth guards become brittle and weak with frequent use.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious disorder in which a person temporarily stops breathing while asleep. This can prevent your brain from receiving enough oxygen, which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. It can also cause excessive snoring.

Some people with sleep apnea use a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, which keeps your airways open while you sleep. However, if you only have mild sleep apnea, a custom-made mouth guard can be a good option.

Instead of simply covering your teeth, a custom-made mouth guard designed to help with sleep apnea works by pushing your lower jaw and tongue forward, keeping your airway open.


Mouth guards can reduce snoring, which happens due to vibrations of soft tissue in your upper airway. The best option is a custom mouth guard that will work by pulling your lower jaw forward to keep your airway open.

Mouth Guards and Braces

You may be wondering if it is possible to use a mouth guard if you wear braces, and the answer is yes. But the mouth guard will need to be custom-made to fit around your braces and brackets for maximum comfort and protection.

Who Should Use It

A mouth guard is a good option for athletes as well as those who suffer from sleep apnea, snoring, and teeth clenching or grinding. It will help protect your teeth and mouth from injury and, if worn overnight, may help improve sleep.

Mouth Guard Care

Keep your mouth guard clean and help it last longer by following these suggestions:

  • Brush and floss your teeth before putting in your mouth guard.
  • Rinse your mouth guard with cool water or mouthwash before putting it in and after taking it out. Avoid using hot water, which can warp it.
  • Use a toothbrush and toothpaste to clean it after each use.
  • Store your mouth guard in a hard container with some ventilation to protect it and allow it to dry out between uses.
  • Regularly check for holes or other signs of wear and tear, which will indicate it needs to be replaced.
  • If you have a custom mouth guard, bring it to your dentist appointments. They can give it a professional cleaning and make sure it still fits properly.


Mouth guards help protect your teeth, tongue, cheeks, and lips from sports-related injuries or problems caused by sleep apnea, snoring, and teeth clenching or grinding. There are multiple types of mouth guards to consider; your budget and the level of protection you need will help dictate the best option for you.

A Word From Verywell

Talk with your dentist to determine what type of mouth guard can help you with the issues you are experiencing. Mouth guards typically last up to two years; keeping it clean and well-maintained is the best way to make sure yours holds up.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you mold a mouth guard?

    Your boil-and-bite mouth guard will come with step-by-step instructions. But the basic idea is to place the mouth guard in a saucepan of boiling water for about a minute. Then, run it briefly under cool water before lining it up with the center of your upper teeth. Press it around your teeth, starting with the molars and moving forward. You'll then bite down and suck in strongly before removing the mouth guard and placing it in cold water to set it.

  • How should a mouth guard fit?

    Your mouth guard should fit snug against your teeth, without your needing to bite or clench it to keep it in place. It should stay securely on your teeth without falling out or shifting.

  • Where can you buy a mouth guard?

    Most drugstores and sporting goods stores sell mouth guards. If you are looking to get a custom-made mouth guard, you'll need to see your dentist.

10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. John Hopkins Medicine. Mouth Guards/Bite Splints.

  3. Chowdhury RU, Churei H, Tanabe G, et al. Useful design of custom-made mouthguard for athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment with brackets and wires. J Dent Sci. 2022;17(1):308-315.

  4. American Dental Association. Athletic mouth protectors (mouthguards).

  5. John Hopkins Medicine. Bruxism.

  6. Beddis H, Pemberton M, Davies S. Sleep bruxism: an overview for clinicians. Br Dent J. 2018;225(6):497-501.

  7. John Hopkins Medicine. Sleep Apnea and Dental Treatments.

  8. John Hopkins Medicine. Sleep Apnea.

  9. John Hopkins Medicine. Snoring.

  10. Sliwkanich L, Ouanounou A. Mouthguards in dentistry: Current recommendations for dentists. Dent Traumatol. 2021;37(5):661-671.

By Caroline Chirichella
Caroline Chirichella is a freelance writer with a focus on mental health, digestive health, and parenting.