Your Guide to Custom MouthGuards

Emergencies can happen to anyone, anywhere. Unfortunately, even your teeth may be the victim. According the National Library of Medicine, “In 2018, there were more than 2 million dental-related emergency department (ED) visits, which represented 615.5 visits per 100,000 population.” While only a small fraction resulted in admittance to the hospital, the number is still significant. It reveals that often, our teeth are not as protected as they could be from the risks of everyday life. Today, we’ll spotlight one important way that kids and adults alike can avoid becoming a part of this statistic: utilizing custom mouthguards.

What is a custom mouthguard?                

            Mouthguards come in three general varieties: one-size-fits-all, boil-and-bite, and custom. As you can imagine, the different varieties vary in price, comfort, and effectiveness. One-size-fits-all mouthguards (as the name implies) are sold off-the-shelf with the intent to fit every mouth. These are typically the most budget-friendly. However, it’s likely that they won’t fit quite right and could get knocked out when they’re supposed to be protecting you. A boil-and-bite mouthguard is a bit like a homemade custom mouthguard. The user heats the mouthguard up and then allows it to cool in their mold, molding to the shape of their teeth. While these are more comfortable than one-size-fits-all, they still lack the precision of true custom mouthguards.

As Dentaly explains, custom mouthguards are “teeth protectors that are made using impressions or scans of your mouth and teeth so that they offer personalized protection.” Unlike one-size-fits-all or a boil-and-bite, this variety is crafted to fit the specific contours of your mouth, producing maximum effectiveness.

Who might need them?

            What do you use a mouthguard for at all? Good question. Your dentist may recommend you use a mouthguard for a number of reasons. The Cleveland Clinic provides a list of possible situations. You may need a mouthguard if you:

  • Grind or clench your teeth (bruxism).
  • Play contact sports such as football, basketball, hockey, soccer, or boxing.
  • Participate in activities with a high fall risk, such as gymnastics, biking, or ice skating.
  • Snore.
  • Have obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Have TMJ disorder.

If any of those situations apply to you, ask your dentist at your next visit if a custom mouthguard is necessary for you. They would be happy to help guide you through the selection process.

            Ultimately, you need protection because your teeth can be damaged. You only get one set. (Well, two, technically, but still—if you’re reading this, you’re probably on your adult teeth by now.) Take contact sports, for instance. The American College of Sports Medicine found, “The expanding arena of sports and vigorous recreational activities is associated with an increased risk for sports-related injuries, including trauma to the teeth.” The risk is legitimate that in participating in contact sports, you could end up in that statistic we cited at the beginning of this discussion. Thus, if you are participating in anything where your teeth are at risk of impact or damage, a mouthguard may be in your best interest.

How do I find one?

            Maybe you think you need a mouthguard, but you’re not sure where to start. That’s perfectly understandable. For starters, it’s good to know that there are mouthguards for more than just contact sports. If you have sleep apnea, you don’t need the same type of mouthguard as a football player. The Cleveland Clinic lays out the three main varieties available:

Sports Mouthguards.

Gymnastics, football, wrestling, whatever your event—sports mouthguards are designed to protect you from chipped or knocked-out teeth.

Sleep Mouthguards.

Mouthguards are designed for those who snore or have sleep apnea to assist the airway in remaining fully open.

Bruxism Mouthguards.

Those who grind or clench their teeth (or suffer from TMJ disorder) can often benefit from a mouthguard. Since they are commonly worn at night, when grinding is often done, many refer to these as night guards.

The process is simple. If you think you may need a mouthguard for any reason, speak to your dentist at your next appointment. If you decide together that it is the best step for you, and you are willing to pay the extra expense to benefit from the comfort and effectiveness of a custom fit, then you can proceed. As the Cleveland Clinic explains, the dentist will begin by capturing dental impressions. Once those dental impressions have been sent to a lab, a technician will create a mouthguard according to the exact specifications laid out. It could take a few weeks for the mouthguard to come in. After you receive it, it could take a while to get used to the fit in your mouth. However, custom mouthguards are still a vast improvement over the one-size-fits-all variety.

Final Thoughts

Mouthguards come in three varieties: one-size-fits-all, boil-and-bite, and custom. While custom mouthguards are the most expensive, they are also the most effective of the three. They are formed based on impressions or scans the dentist has taken of the patient’s teeth so that the mouthguard fits their exact specifications. Mouthguards are a useful way to avoid dental emergencies for those who participate in high-risk or high-contact activities, such as football or gymnastics. They can also benefit those with conditions like bruxism, TMJ, or sleep apnea. If you think you need a mouthguard, speak with your dentist today. Contact our office to discuss your need for a mouthguard or to make your next appointment.

About Our Team

Our team of dental experts has well over 30 years of combined experience in the field of dentistry. To learn more about them, please visit our team page or stop by the clinic and say hello!