Mouth guards are used to protect the teeth and jaw during unintended jarring or forceful closure of the mouth. Unprotected teeth can be broken, chipped or otherwise damaged if the jaw is shut with forces beyond normal biting strength. Sports, especially contact sports, can result in jarring hits, unexpected falls or rough closure of the jaw in ways that damage the teeth and jaw. When properly fitted, a mouthguard protects the teeth and jaw by surrounding the teeth with a cushion.
Things You'll Need
- Mouth guard
- Cooking pot
- Cooking tongs
Prepare the Mouthguard
Wash the mouth guard with soap and warm water, to remove oils, chemicals or debris. By cleaning the mouth guard prior to boiling, you can reduce the likelihood of unintended material getting embedded into the guard during fitting.
Add enough water to a pot to fully submerge the mouth guard. Bring the water to a boil.
Place the mouth guard into the boiling water, using a pair of tongs. The mouth guard is generally submerged for 10 to 45 seconds; check the directions that come with your mouth guard for specific timing. This step allows the outer lining of the mouth guard to become soft and pliable.
Retrieve the mouth guard from the boiling water using tongs. Rinse the mouth guard under cold water for a second or two. This slight cooling helps to ensure a comfortable fitting. If the mouth guard is exposed to the cold water for too long, it will regain it's strength and require another round in the boiling water.
Hold the mouth guard in your fingers. If it is too hot to hold, place the mouth guard on a clean surface and wait a few seconds, then try again. This helps ensure you will not burn your mouth during fitting.
Fitting the Mouth Guard
Place the mouth guard into your mouth, aligning the grooves with your top teeth, and bite down fully using moderate pressure. Do not bite all the way through the mouth guard. The mouth guard will compress and might initially be uncomfortably warm; the mouth guard should not be so hot that it burns your gums.
Keep your jaw closed for 60 seconds while the mouth guard cools and solidifies. During this time, use your fingers to press the outside of your lips and cheeks against the mouth guard to ensure a good fit against your teeth.
Open your mouth and remove the mouth guard, and rinse it under cold water to ensure that it is fully cooled.
Place the mouth guard back into your mouth to ensure that you have a comfortable fit. If the mouth guard does not fit properly, briefly return it to the boiling water and repeat the fitting process.
- Photo Credit Teeth and Mouth image by Sujit Mahapatra from Fotolia.com
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