Mouth guards are a great way to protect your teeth from damage. However, the type of mouth guard you get depends on what type of protection you need.
There are mouth guards that are made specifically for athletes who play contact sports, such as hockey football. Then, there are night mouth guards that dentists will recommend for teeth grinding and TMJ.
Is there a multi-purpose solution, or is it important to get a different mouth guard for each scenario? And most importantly, how much are these mouth guards going to cost you?
What is a Mouth Guard?
A mouth guard is a piece of plastic or silicone that fits over the upper and lower portion of your teeth. The best mouth guards fit comfortably in the mouth without causing discomfort.
Over-the-counter sports teeth guards can be found at stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods. These are made to fit athletes’ mouths so they won’t break during a game or practice session. They’re generally made of soft plastic and come in a variety of colors or patterns to help players identify them on the field.
Then there are mouth guards for teeth grinding. Also known as Bruxism, this condition happens unconsciously while you’re awake or (more likely) when you’re sleeping. If left untreated, this can lead to:
- Cracked or chipped teeth
- Constant headaches
Your dentist will be the first to notice if you need a mouth guard for teeth grinding (it really wears down your enamel). This is when we’ll prescribe a custom-fitted mouth or nightguard. However, before you blow us off for one of the cheap over-the-counter mouth guards at CVS, you should probably know the differences.
Types of Mouth Guards
Mouth guards can be made of plastic, rubber, or silicone. Some are designed for specific sports, while other types are more general-purpose.
There are super cheap mouth guards and mouth guards from your dentist that can cost you hundreds of dollars.
Before you dive into the specifics, please note that the ADA recommends “wearing a properly fitted mouthguard to reduce the incidence and severity of oral injury in sporting or recreational activities.” You cannot get this from over-the-counter guards.
You also can’t really use your sports mouth guard for nighttime teeth grinding (it’s way too big) or vice versa.
So are OTC mouth guards really worth it? Let’s talk about it.
The most basic type of mouthguard is a full-face guard that covers the entire upper side of your mouth. An OTC sports teeth guard is great if you’re looking for protection in multiple directions (but it will not offer much protection against biting or grinding).
Sports mouthguards include materials such as elasto polymer, gel, and plastic. Some have dual-layer protection to absorb shock from contact sports. These products should follow NFHS rules for mouthguards.
However, studies suggest that the scale of protection for OTC mouthguards is inferior to custom molds. They specifically say, “Over time it is hoped that the use of stock mouthguards would diminish in favour of the custom made mouthguard thereby reducing the incidence of oral trauma in contact sports.”
OTC Dental Mouth Guards
You can also get over-the-counter dental mouthguards for nightly teeth grinding or TMJ. You can get them at Walmart for as low as $10.
However, you should know that studies (and dentists) have realized that some of these OTC nightguards can cause your teeth to shift over time. And because they aren’t custom fit to your teeth, these nightguards are notorious for being uncomfortable and slipping out of your mouth while you sleep.
Boil-and-Bite Mouth Guards
A better solution for you could be boil-and-bite mouthguards. While these aren’t as effective as custom-fitted mouthguards from your dentist, they’re a better option than OTC.
Made out of thermoplastics, these mouthguards are easy to use while giving you a more custom fit around your teeth. The directions are in the name: you just boil, then bite!
To be more specific, thermoplastics are moldable plastic that you can mend to any shape. All you need to do is boil it. Once the plastic becomes soft, you place the material on your teeth and then bite down. As the material cools, it will harden so that you’ll have your very own mouthguard for sports or nightly wear.
Dental Mouth Guard
A dental mouthguard is custom-made by your dentist. It gives you the most comfortable fit that will stay in place.
A custom-fitted guard works best if you have TMJ because it will be made to “hold the jaw in a certain position and/or provide a barrier to minimize tooth damage from grinding.“
RELATED: HOW MUCH ARE TEETH FILLINGS?
How Much Does a Mouth Guard Cost?
It probably comes as no surprise that OTC mouth guards are immensely cheaper than custom-fitted ones.
However, think of all the money you’ll spend having to buy a mouthguard every time it breaks during a game or cracks under your relentless night teeth grinding.
These cheaper materials are not meant for longevity.
But to answer your question, here are the general prices you can expect to pay for mouthguards:
- OTC Sports Mouthguards: $15
- OTC Night Guard: $20-$100
- Boil-and-Bite Mouthguard: $10-$25
- Custom-Fitted Dental Mouthguard: $300+
Keep in mind that the price of a mouthguard from your dentist will vary depending on where you live.
Is a dental mouthguard covered under insurance?
Typically, any service that your dentist deems medically necessary will be covered under your dental insurance.
Mouthguards for teeth grinding help reduce medical complications such as TMJ, and mouthguards fitted for sports prevents severe medical injuries.
So yes, custom-fitted mouthguards should be covered under insurance!