So you've been diagnosed with bruxism. Your dentist has probably recommended a custom dental guard (also called an occlusal splint), but at what price! Buying a mouth guard from your dentist may cost as much as $500, but ordering online can reduce the cost without any loss of quality. Depending upon the severity of your bruxism and your specific mouth guard needs, a custom mouth guard can cost $100-$200 when purchased online and will last 6 months to 5 years.
When ordering your night mouth guard, it is important that you choose a guard that will best protect your teeth. There are a number of factors to consider from price, to material, to vendor, and each is critical in your search for the right mouth guard.
Averaging $300-$500 per custom mouth guard, purchasing a dental guard through your dentist is the most expensive option. You are paying a mark-up for the dentist to take a mold of your teeth, while the mouth guard itself costs less than $200.
The absolute cheapest option for mouth guards are stock sports mouth guards. These guards can cost less than $20 but they do not mold to your teeth and are often large and uncomfortable. These bulky guards may also cause difficulty breathing which may lead to further insomnia and sleep difficulties if used as a night guard.
Only slightly more expensive, boil and bite mouth guards are also available in sporting goods stores. Though these mouth guards can be molded to teeth by heating and pressing them onto the teeth with your fingers, they are often still bulky and due to the overly soft inner layer may even damage the alignment of your teeth (Okeson, 1987) if worn for prolonged periods of time.
Landing between the expensive mouth guards from the dentist and the cheap sporting dental guards, dental night guards can also be purchased from online custom night mouth guard stores such as ProTeethGuard.com. Prices range from $100 to $200 per guard, but the mouth guards are still of the same custom fit and high quality as those purchased from a dentist. Why the difference in price? When ordering from an online clinic, you will be sent a do-it-yourself kit which shows you how to easily create a bite impression which is then returned to the company to create your teeth mold. The only real difference is the price and who creates your teeth mold -- the quality is identical.
Where ever you get your dental night guard, it is always worthwhile to ensure a custom fit. Generic mouth guards, even those that can be molded to your teeth before wearing, are often thicker and bulkier than custom mouth guards. This additional bulkiness can cause discomfort, difficulty speaking or breathing, and may even damage your tooth alignment. Everyone's mouth is a different shape and size, so trying to use a one-size fits all mouth guard is unlikely to result in a proper fit.
A custom fitting involves creating a mold of your unique jaw and teeth upon which the guard is formed. This allows a perfect fit even with rigid acrylic that could not be remolded with every use. This allows the mouth guard to be thinner and more discrete. In fact, a thin acrylic mouth guard can even be worn during the day without affecting breathing or speaking. These thinner mouth guards are not designed, like sports guards are, to protect your teeth from a kick or punch, but are more than sufficient to cushion the jaw to prevent pain from clenching, and to protect the enamel from teeth grinding. A more comfortable custom fitted dental guard can help you ease the symptoms of bruxism without additional breathing, speaking, or sleeping difficulties.
Within custom dental guards, there is still variation in terms of thickness, material, and intended use.
The heaviest teeth grinding requires the thickest, strongest custom dental night guard. These durable guards usually last 2-5 years and are made of 2-3mm thick rigid acrylic. Though they are typically the most expensive dental night guards, if you are suffering from severe bruxism, these heavier guards are the best way to protect your tooth enamel over time.
If you have somewhat less intense teeth grinding and some clenching, a hybrid mouth guard is your best choice. These custom mouth guards are 2-3mm thick and last 1-3 years. The inside layer is soft to provide cushioning for clenching while the outside layer is rigid plastic to provide durability and protection for your tooth enamel.
Soft mouth guards made of 2mm thick rubber are also available for light bruxism and clenching. The soft rubber provides extra cushioning to prevent jaw pain from clenching while also helping to protect the enamel from grinding for 6 months to 2 years.
If your bruxism is not limited to sleep, you can also purchase daytime guards that are thin, lightweight, and barely noticeable. These ultra thin mouth guards are made of 1.5mm thick hard acrylic but are light and flexible enough to allow natural speaking while still protecting your teeth from the damage of clenching and grinding during the day. These lightweight mouth guards last 6 months to 2 years.
Healthy teeth are vital to your comfort and well-being, if you have bruxism, however, your teeth are at risk of erosion and pain. Dentists generally suggest expensive custom mouth guards, but by purchasing the same high quality custom shaped mouth guard from an online dental clinic you can save hundreds of dollars while getting the same comfort and protection you can expect from a mouth guard purchased through your dentist. It is worth taking a look at the range of options before you spend $300-$500 at your dentist's office.
Okeson, J.P. (1987). The effects of hard and soft occlusal splints on nocturnal bruxism. Journal of the American Dental Association, 114(6), 788-791.