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Custom vs. Over-the-Counter Nightguards – Which One is Best?

September 11, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nancy @ 11:08 pm
Man putting in nightguard

Bruxism is a condition where you grind and/or clench your teeth, usually at night. Most people are unaware that they do this, and it can lead to a variety of different issues, like jaw disorders, frequent headaches, damaged teeth, and more. Fortunately, nightguards can prevent damage caused by bruxism, but there are a few different types. Here’s what you should know when choosing a nightguard.

How Do Nightguards Work?

A nightguard works by forming a protective layer between your upper and lower teeth. When you bite or clench down as you sleep, your teeth meet the protective material instead of each other. This prevents teeth grinding and can decrease your risk of needing future dental restorations as a result of worn down and damaged teeth. Opting for a nightguard can help to reduce some of the negative symptoms of bruxism you’ve been experiencing, including frequent headaches, jaw pain, and discomfort of the teeth.

What are the Different Types of Nightguards?

Custom Nightguard

Customized night guards are made by your dentist to fit your mouth perfectly. They will take an impression of your smile and send it off to a lab. This is where a custom nightguard is crafted just for your teeth. With a customized nightguard, your dentist may have a more specific recommendation depending on how severe your teeth grinding is. For instance, if you are a light teeth clencher, your dentist may recommend a softer night guard. If you clench and grind your teeth very hard, they will likely recommend a harder nightguard.

Over-the-Counter Nightguards

There are two different types of over-the-counter nightguards:

  • One-Size-Fits-All: These are designed to fit every mouth right out of the box. It may end up fitting your teeth, but it won’t be able to provide as secure of a fit. This ultimately means that it won’t work as well as a custom-made one from your dentist.
  • Boil and Bite: This type of nightguard works by using heat to help mold the mouthguard to your bite. You boil the guard and then place it on your teeth. As it hardens, it will form an impression of your smile. Generally, these work better than a one-size-fits-all mouthguard, but it won’t be as snug and secure as a custom mouthguard.

Which Nightguard Should You Get?

The different types of nightguards all have their pros and cons. Over-the-counter options are typically cheaper than custom nightguards, but they aren’t made to perfectly fit your teeth. Ultimately, they aren’t as safe to use or as effective at protecting your teeth from grinding and clenching. Custom night guards are more of an investment, and you need to see your dentist, but you will be left with the safest, most accurate fit because it is made specifically for your teeth.

To determine if a nightguard is a good option for you, talk to a dental professional. This way, you can make the best choice to suit your unique smile!

About the Author

Dr. Frances Hamman is an experienced orthodontist who has been working in the field for more than three decades. She earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery from Creighton University and pursued her degree in orthodontics from Case Western Reserve University. She’s been recognized by Northern Virginia Magazine and the Washington Consumers Checkbook magazine as one of “Washington’s Top Orthodontists.” For more information on nightguards or to schedule an appointment at her office in Ripon, visit her website or call (920) 748-7130.

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