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 Gregory C. Dilger D.D.S.           General Dentist            1353 Edgewater St.          West Salem          (503) 378-0466   

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Sports Mouth GuardsMouthguard

Mouth guards, also called sports guards or mouth protectors, are a flexible plastic device worn over the teeth during high risk activities, typically sports.  They protect the teeth and tissues of the mouth from traumatic blows to the head and face. They also safeguard against traumatic blows to the face from being transferred to other structures, thereby helping to prevent jaw fractures, cerebral hemorrhage, concussions and neck injuries. By keeping soft tissue away from the teeth, they help prevent cuts and bruises to the tongue, lips and cheeks.  This is especially important for those wearing braces. 

Mouth guards are often used when playing sports that involve an individual participating in an activity that might result in an injury.   Basketball, football, soccer, hockey, skateboarding, gymnastics and mountain biking are just examples.

So why don't more people wear mouth guards?  Since it is not mandatory for athletes to use mouth guards, many do not because they fit poorly, are uncomfortable, have difficulty speaking and image.  Nobody else is wearing one, so I won't.  Many coaches do not realize the value of the mouth guard, so do not encourage their athletes to wear one.  And many parents are not aware of the level of contact and potential for serious injuries (including dental) involved in their children's activities.  Gender bias also is a factor, as many people incorrectly feel that female athletes are less aggressive and less at risk of injury.  Cost is also often cited as a limiting factor, but the cost of custom mouth guards has come down and is much less than the cost of reconstruction.

Other guards and splints, such as bite plates, NTI's, bleach trays and night guards should not be worn during athletic activities as they are not designed for that kind of stress, are more fragile and may transfer forces other head and neck areas causing more sever injuries.

Sports guards are often made to cover the upper teeth, and they should protect the lips, mouth and cheeks. No matter the design, composition, or method of fabrication, all mouth guards are made of plastic. There are three types:

       ·  Custom made mouth guards  Custom MouthguardThese are designed by your dentist and made by a professional laboratory.  They are specifically made for the individual and they provide the best protection and fit with very little soft tissue irritation.  They have the best resiliency to provide good relief of trauma to other parts of the head.  Customized mouth guards are the one that health professionals recommend.

        ·  Boil and bite mouth guards  Boil and Bite Many sporting goods store carry these mouth protectors.  They come in a pre-formed mouth piece shape.   By warming in boiling water and biting on the plastic, the sports guard can be form fit to fit the individual.   You have to follow the directions carefully, and they are very technique sensitive. It is hard to get a good fit that does not irritate the soft tissues in the mouth. They provide limited protection, and are bulkier and more uncomfortable than the custom made mouth guards.

       ·   Stock mouth guards  Stock MouthguardThese pre-formed mouth guard comes ready to use out of the box.  Even though they are inexpensive, these sports guard are bulky and often do not fit properly. They provide very little protection to the teeth, and can cause quite a bit of irritation to the soft tissue. They are very poor at providing relief of trauma to other part of the head.

The American Dental Association estimates that mouth guards prevent approximately 200,000 injuries each year in high school and collegiate sports.  Mouth guards are an important piece of athletic equipment.  They should be:

1.      Comfortable so the individual can speak and breathe easily

2.      Odorless and    tasteless

3.      Protective as well as resilient and tear resistant

4.      3-4mm in thickness to properly protect

5.       Retentive so it does not come loose during action

6.       Durable and easy to clean 

7.       Cleaned  after every use

It is important to remember that anyone that participates in sports should be wearing a mouth guard, regardless of age or level of sport.

November 4, 2009

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Dear Dr. Dilger:


It all started with my initial phone call to Dr. Dilger's office. I felt so comfortable from the start and after I came in for my first visit it's been all about what I want and what Dr. Dilger and his staff recommends for me. All around, it's been the best dental experience I've ever had.


Al P.




Going to the dentist used to be a nightmare experience for me. That's all changed when I came to Dr. Dilger. Dr. Dilger's office staff are so warm and welcoming. Visiting them is like going home. Dr. Dilger's calm and caring manner erased all my dental anxiety and for the first time in my life I found myself relaxed in a dental chair. Dr. Dilger and his staff really took the time to get to know me and my concerns. They talked with me about my fears and helped me address my anxiety. Now I visit the dentist and I'm not afraid. I can not express the difference Dr. Dilger has made in my dental life! Thanks so much Dr. D.


Molly F.




I love my new smile.  It was so easy too.  Nearly pain free.  I am considering my lower teeth at a later date.


Debbie E.