Professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, made headlines in 2011 as he smashed his face and knocked out a tooth during a recent doubles session at the Kona Skate Park in Jacksonville, Florida. Soon after, he Tweeted that he was looking for a dentistto fix his smile and posted an image of the temporary tooth that was put in place until a dental implant could be surgically attached. Chances are that mishap could have been avoided completely if he chose to wear a mouth guard while participating in his sport of choice.
According to Wikipedia, The first mouth guard is the accredited invention of London dentist named Woolf Krauze. In 1890 Krauze designed the very first mouth guard to protect boxers against lip cuts, lip gashes and injury. The next advancements that provided the basis for contemporary designs happened in 1970 thanks to Canadian pediatric dentist Dr. A. W. S. Wood. He focused his efforts on tweaking the original design to prevent dental injuries during ice hockey (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mouthguard). Thanks to the ingenuity of both dentists, the appliances have since evolved to serve a myriad of uses.
Sports fans know that mouth guards are an official part of team uniforms for a number of activities including hockey, football, and basketball. The fact is, during those types of pastimes, the odds for facial impact and subsequent dental problems are greater. However, the appliances can also be used as a dental treatment for a number of issues.
The involuntary tooth-clenching action associated with bruxism can cause a myriad of problems including headaches, tooth sensitivity, excessive wear and tear, chipped teeth, tooth erosion and TMJ. TMJ is a condition marked by the uncomfortable ability of the lower jaw (the mandible) to move up, down and sideways. It is not uncommon for professional dental care providers to fit patients with mouth guards to hold a jaw steady during slumber in order to increase comfort and reduce the negative impact of the conditions.
Mouth guards (in the form of trays) are also used in cosmetic dentistry. Some trays are used to hold the solution needed for professional tooth bleaching. Additionally, the new crop of invisible braces count on removable and replaceable mouth guards to slowly shift teeth into their proper positions.
There are a large variety of mouth guard options with some available at the neighborhood pharmacy for as little as $20 and custom-made devices that can cost hundreds of dollars. The price fluctuations prove that not all mouth guards are created equally: