As dentists, we’re nuts about prevention, and one of the biggest ways you can prevent the need for emergency dental care is to wear a mouthguard. There are two major types of mouthguards: nightguards and sports guards. Both come in over-the-counter and custom dentist-prescribed versions. Here’s why the latter is a better choice!
First, the basics. A nightguard is a mouthguard that is worn at night while sleeping by patients who clench and grind their teeth, a condition called bruxism. Repeated stresses of bruxism can eventually cause cracked and damaged teeth. Wearing a nightguard prevents this damage. A sports guard is a mouthguard that is worn during sports to protect the mouth and face from injuries from impacts or accidents. By the way, mouthguards aren’t just for contact sports. We recommend them to athletes of all ages, from gymnasts to mountain bikers.
Store-bought, over-the-counter mouthguards are attractive because they are more affordable and quick to get. However, this convenience and affordability do come with some downsides. Stock mouthguards that are pre-formed into an arch shape come in limited sizes, so it can be tricky to get a good fit. Boil-and-bite mouthguards that can be heat-molded to your teeth are more comfortable, but they are also thinner and less durable. They wear down faster and will need to be replaced fairly soon.
By contrast, custom mouthguards from the dentist are more precise and therefore more comfortable. To create a mouthguard, we’ll first take an impression of your mouth and make a mold of it. From the mold we make a ceramic model of your teeth that a mouthguard is formed over, using high-tech durable plastic. The exact material depends on whether it is a sports guard or a mouthguard. Sports guards can usually be made in custom colors so you can pick your favorite or show your team spirit.
Because they are so precisely fitted, custom mouthguards from the dentist are much more comfortable. We find that patients who have a comfortable mouthguard are much more likely to wear it! And wearing a mouthguard is key to avoiding an emergency dentist visit!