If you have been diagnosed with bruxism (teeth grinding), chances are your dentist has recommended a mouthguard for treatment. If you have decided a mouthguard is the right treatment option, you may have some important questions; Which mouthguard is right for me? What is the difference between a sports mouth guard and a night guard? Can you use a sports mouth guard for teeth grinding?
Mouthguards are one of the most common forms of treatment for those who grind and clench their teeth because they provide support for the jaw and prevent the teeth from making contact. Fortunately, mouthguards are highly effective in alleviating much of the pain that accompanies teeth grinding: jaw pain, facial pain, earaches, headaches, tooth sensitivity, and more.
Generally, there are 2 main kinds of mouthguard, and each kind has multiple options. These include sports mouthguards and dental custom-fitted night guards. Sports guards and dental guards vary in price, material, and purpose.
Sports Mouthguards VS. Dental Night Guards
Sports mouthguards and dental mouthguards generally serve 2 different purposes. Sport mouthguards, true to their name, are created to protect athletes from sport-related injuries. They protect the teeth, tongue, and cheeks using shock absorption and stress distribution in contact in sports. Alternatively, dental night guards are made to prevent teeth from repetitive grinding. They are custom fitted to help position the jaw in a way that relieves muscle tension. They also differ in price and material. These factors are different because they serve different purposes. Dental guards cost upwards of $100 and are made from durable materials. Sports guards usually cost between $15 and $25 and are made of less durable materials.
Can you Use a Sports Mouthguard When you Sleep?
Sports mouthguards are generally not recommended as a protective treatment for teeth grinding or TMJ disorder. They are typically bulkier and more uncomfortable to wear throughout the night. One study notes that athletes often complain about “breathing difficulties and problems with speaking” when wearing stock mouthguards during their sport, so one can assume that these sports guards would make breathing more difficult during sleep as well. They are not custom fitted, nor are they made from durable materials equipped to withstand grinding and clenching. However, while you wait for your custom fitted guard to be crafted, you might consider purchasing a sports guard as a temporary layer of protection. Dentists and the American Dentist Association do not recommend using athletic guards as a permanent solution for sleep bruxism as they may alter your bite and potentially put you at risk for invasive dental work.
What Is The Difference Between A Sports Mouth Guard And A Dental Night Guard?
We have done a detailed comparison between a sports mouth guard and a night guard below:
Sports guards (or athletic mouth guards) are used in contact sports to protect the teeth, tongue, and cheeks from injury. They’re often used in sports such as football, ice hockey, and lacrosse. Sport mouth guards come in two forms: boil-and-bite and generic. Boil-and-bite guards offer more customization because you boil the guard to make it moldable to your teeth. Generic over-the-counter sports guards do not fit the features of your mouth. In 2015, the ADA began approving sports mouthguards for the specific use of contact sports.
10-20% of all sports related injuries are maxillofacial injuries according to the American Dental Association.
Sport Mouthguard Price
In general, sports mouthguards will cost between $15 and $25. You can expect boil-and-bite guards to cost more than the generic guards. These are the cheapest mouth guard options on the market. They can be purchased at the drugstore or sports store.
Sport Mouthguard Material
Boil-and-bite mouthguards come in many different shapes and sizes. They are usually made from polyvinyl chloride and thermoplastics. The thermoplastic material is the plastic that softens when you boil it to allow it to press into your teeth. While these materials are safe for use in sports, they are not recommended for the prevention of teeth grinding.
Purpose of Sport Mouthguards
The main purpose of the sport mouthguard is to prevent dental injuries. The National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety confirms, “ an athlete is 60 times more likely to sustain damage to the teeth when not wearing a protective mouthguard”. Athletic guards use shock absorption to prevent impact injury in contact sports. The materials distribute force throughout the entire surface of the mouthguard, allowing it to absorb the impact. A simulation study concluded, “Mouthguard use is beneficial for all simulated impacts and assists in dampening the generated stresses” after testing sports mouthguards' effectiveness in protecting the skull and teeth from impact injury. Having this guard between your teeth will stop you from biting down on your tongue or cheek. It can prevent you from cracking or breaking your teeth as well.
Dental Night Guards
Dental night guards are custom-fitted for each individual. This customization provides excellent protection from teeth grinding, jaw clenching, temporomandibular joint disorder, and more. A review of dental night guards finds, “Properly fitted mouthguards reduce the risk and severity of orofacial injury, to both hard and soft tissues, preventing thousands of dollars of trauma management”. Custom mouthguards are the dentist recommended solution for teeth grinding.
Dental Night Guard Price
Dental night mouth guards can be purchased directly from the dentist or from an online retailer. In general, you can expect to pay between $400 and $800 for a custom fit night guard from the dentist. Splints for TMJ can cost upwards of $1,000. A custom night guard from an online retailer will cost between $100 and $200 and are made with the same professional materials as the dentist. Custom fitted guards from the dentist or an online retailer have higher price points because they are made with more durable materials.
Dental Night Guard Material
Custom dental guards are made from all FDA approved materials. Materials will vary based on the type of mouthguard: hard, soft, and hybrid night guards. Some materials include acrylic, thermoplastics, flexible vinyl, and dual-laminate materials. These materials make custom fitted mouthguards the most durable option for teeth grinders and provide the very best protection from tooth damage and other painful symptoms of bruxism.
Purpose of Dental Night Guards
The sole purpose of dental mouthguards is to alleviate pain and protect the teeth and jaw from future damage. They are crafted from an impression of your teeth to achieve a perfect fit. These guards aim to relieve your teeth pain, jaw pain, facial pain, and headaches/earaches. Namely, a nightguard functions by protecting the teeth surfaces from being worn down from constant grinding and clenching. While protecting the teeth, custom night guards also position the jaw into a properly aligned position, resting the overactive muscles.
Sports Guards and Custom Guards
Sports mouth guards and dental night guards differ in price and material. Most importantly, they serve different purposes. Sports guards work to absorb shock from injuries sustained in contact sports. Alternatively, dental guards aim to protect the teeth and jaw from the painful symptoms of teeth grinding and/or TMJ. All oral appliances are used to protect oral health, but the different types serve different purposes. Identify the reason you are seeking a night guard and select the right mouth guard for you. Consult your dentist if you are unsure which night guard is right for you.
If you grind your teeth and are looking for an effective and affordable solution, visit Pro Teeth Guard. We craft the highest quality custom fitted guards from the best materials. Our guards are created in a professional dental lab and come with a 110% money back guarantee so you can purchase with confidence.
- Francis, K. T., & Brasher, J. (1991). Physiological effects of wearing mouthguards. British journal of sports medicine, 25(4), 227–231. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.25.4.227
- Knapik, J. J., et al. (2007). Mouthguards in sport activities : history, physical properties and injury prevention effectiveness. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 37(2), 117–144. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200737020-00003
- Nationwide Children's Hospital Writing Staff. (n.d.). Mouth guards in sports: A necessary piece of equipment. Nationwide Children's Hospital. https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/specialties/sports-medicine/sports-medicine-articles/mouth-guards-in-sports-a-necessary-piece-of-equipment
- Sliwkanich, L., & Ouanounou, A. (2021). Mouthguards in Dentistry: Current recommendations for Dentists. Wiley Online Library. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/edt.12686
- Tribst, J.P.M., Dal Piva, A.M.d., Borges, A.L.S. et al. Simulation of mouthguard use in preventing dental injuries caused by different impacts in sports activities. Sport Sci Health 15, 85–90 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11332-018-0488-4