When your dentist diagnoses you with a teeth grinding issue, they may recommend a custom mouth guard to alleviate your symptoms and protect your teeth. If designed and worn properly, a mouth guard can prevent tooth cracks, fractures, and other painful TMJ problems that can often lead to pricey dental treatments. If you’re like many patients, you’re probably wondering if custom mouth guards from the dentist are better than store-bought versions.
While both custom mouth guards and those you find in drugstores are meant to function similarly, there are a number of differences between these two teeth grinding treatment options.
How Do Mouth Guards Work?
When you grind your teeth, your jaws exert excessive force that can quickly wear down your tooth enamel. Mouth guards work as a protective barrier and absorb this force to protect your teeth, alleviate jaw tension, and relieve facial pain caused by clenching and grinding.
How are Custom Mouth Guards Made?
A custom mouth guard is made to perfectly fit your mouth. On your first fitting visit, a dental impression of your unique smile will be taken using a special putty. This putty will then be sent to a dental lab for fabrication using high-quality, durable materials such as acrylic or thermoplastic. Once your mouth guard is finished (typically one to two weeks), you will return to the dentist for a fitting to ensure your mouth guard is comfortable and fits perfectly.
Custom Mouth Guard Benefits
Dentists usually recommend custom mouth guards over store bought versions for many reasons. Here are just some of the benefits patients receive from a custom option:
- Precision-designed to provide the perfect fit for your unique smile
- Provide optimal comfort in a snug shape so you don’t have to worry about slipping or movement while you sleep
- Made of only high-quality, durable materials so they can last for up to 10 years
- Can often be made thicker for patients with severe teeth grinding or TMJ issues
- Work well to alleviate jaw strain and promote better jaw muscle positioning to stop teeth clenching during the day
- Ensure your jaw is properly aligned
- Often covered by dental insurance
How are Store-Bought Mouth Guards Made?
Most of the store-bought or over-the-counter mouth guard options are mass-produced in universal fits and made from plastic. When you opt for a store-bought mouth guard, you will need to boil the appliance to make it pliable. You will then self-fit it to your teeth and gums by biting down and molding it to your smile. This can leave a lot of room for human error and won’t give you a perfectly comfortable fit.
Store-Bought Mouth Guard Considerations
Sometimes patients opt for store-bought mouth guards out of convenience or to save money. While these mouth guards may work for a night or two if you’re in a bind, they aren’t designed for consistent teeth grinding or longevity. Here are some other things to consider before you decide to buy a mouth guard from the store:
- The plastic that they are made from tends to become brittle quickly
- They wear down much faster than a custom mouth guard from the dentist
- The universal sizing can cause slipping issues
- The fit isn’t very comfortable and can often be too large, which can cause sleep interruptions
Cost of Mouth Guards
If you’re concerned about the cost of a mouth guard (they can range anywhere from $400-$500 out of pocket), it’s important to remember that they are worth the investment and can last for up to 10 years when taken care of properly. Most dental insurances also cover one custom mouthguard in a lifetime. If you are self-pay, a high-quality dentist will offer dental payment plans and financing options to help make your mouth guard more affordable.
Is a Mouth Guard Right for Me?
If you’re susceptible to grinding your teeth, you’re likely already aware of the facial and head pain it can cause. But, there are other times when pain doesn’t occur with teeth grinding. Even if pain isn’t present, you may have other symptoms of teeth grinding that will alert your dentist to prescribing a custom mouth guard. Contact your dentist for an exam if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Tooth pain that won’t go away
- Tension headaches upon waking
- Constant aching jaws
- Earaches that aren’t related to an infection
- Signs of wear on your teeth
- Gum recession
- Tooth sensitivity
- Flat, nubbed, or dull teeth
- Indentations on your tongue
- Damage on the inside of your cheeks
Remember: The above information points are to be used as general guidelines and should not be substituted for medical advice. If you feel that you may need a mouth guard for teeth grinding issues, contact our skilled dentists for a thorough dental exam.
Custom Mouth Guards for Teeth Grinding in Columbus Ohio
Are you ready to relieve your pain with a custom mouth guard? Teeth grinding and bruxism can be managed with a properly fitted mouth guard from our Columbus dentists. We offer a variety of TMJ treatment options including custom mouth guards and dental Botox. Contact us today to schedule an exam.