The reason that every person needs a mouth guard comes down to one word: trauma. When one typically thinks of trauma, one thinks of a strike, or blow, to the affected area. This is not always the case, but it is possible.
This type of trauma is one that an athlete would experience, such as a blow to the face in a sport such as boxing, football, or rugby. Any time that there is a possibility of a strike to the face, an athlete should wear a mouth guard to protect the dentition, or teeth, and its surrounding structures.
Primary Trauma from Occlusion
Primary trauma from occlusion is a disorder when there are excessive forces placed on the dentition with an otherwise healthy periodontium, or tooth supporting structures. This means that the supporting structures of the teeth are intact; however, due to excessive teeth grinding or other parafunctional habits, such as fingernail or pen chewing, the dentition can be damaged. This damage usually appears as wear facets, or grind marks, on the dentition.
Secondary Trauma from Occlusion
Secondary trauma from occlusion is a disorder when there are normal forces being placed on an otherwise unhealthy periodontium. This means that the bony support of the teeth has been lost due to periodontal disease. The normal forces that are now being placed on a reduced periodontium are now causing detrimental effects on the remaining teeth in their current state.
Treatment of trauma to the dentition and trauma from occlusion is as easy as treating the primary problem causing the disorder. If you are preventing trauma from a blow to the mouth in a sporting event, you will treat with a soft mouth guard. This is usually the easiest example to explain, as most people have, at one time or another, been exposed, in one way or another, to an athletic mouth guard.
Treating primary or secondary trauma from occlusion can be a somewhat trickier task. First, you must evaluate and determine the origin of the trauma. Finally, you must eliminate the trauma.
Eliminating the trauma may be easier said than done, however. If a patient is missing many teeth, the dentist must replace these teeth; however, if the patient has the normal complement of teeth, this can be a little more difficult.
In this situation, the patient is normally a one with periodontal disease. In this case, there are many ways that a dentist can correct this disorder. The dentist can splint, or bind using wire, several of the teeth together to help balance the load being placed on the teeth. Other treatments that can be used are selective grinding of teeth to balance the occlusal forces and the use of a mouth guard to accomplish the same effect.
What Treatment is Best For Me?
If a patient’s treatment is something outside of protecting his or her dentition from trauma, such as in athletics, the patient’s treatment needs to be supervised by a dentist or properly trained dental personnel.
The dentist may choose to use one or several different forms of the already mentioned treatments to treat trauma from occlusion. If not treated properly, the patient’s problems can actually get worse rather than better.
- Carranza, FA: Bone Loss and Patterns of Bone Destructions. In Newman, MG; Takei, HH; Carranza, FA; editors: Carranza’s Clinical Periodontology, 9th Edition. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 2002. page 362.
- Wentz et al. J Perio, 1958
- Carranza, FA; Bernard, GW: The Tooth-Supporting Structures. In Newman, MG; Takei, HH; Carranza, FA; editors: Carranza’s Clinical Periodontology, 9th Edition. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 2002. page 53.