Over-The-Counter Nightguards vs. Custom Nightguards
Night guards are a great way to help protect your teeth and alleviate some of the symptoms that come from grinding your teeth at night. A night guard creates a barrier between upper and lower jaws. This protects against tooth damage or headaches caused by teeth grinding.
Lately, Dr. Havener has seen a lot of patients with over-the-counter (OTC) night guards or night guards ordered online. While these options are less expensive, we always recommend custom night guards. The pre-formed or boil-and-bite guards you find at the drugstore or online are not adjusted to your specific occlusion, or bite. This can result in severe TMJ pain and/or unwanted tooth movement. Furthermore, due to their chewy nature, OTC night guards can actually train your brain to grind even more at night when wearing them. They are a glorified chew toy, which is why they are not good for your teeth and jaws.
Although over the counter night guards might be cheaper and more convenient, they are also typically less comfortable and more likely to give you negative side effects. With prolonged poor positioning, a patient’s pain in their joints often worsens and creates the possibility of permanent teeth repositioning and changes in one’s daily bite.
The following is a real life example of a patient who had been self treating with an OTC night guard for almost 10 years. Due to the improper fit of the device, her bite permanently changed. The back teeth were pushed inward because the device was only occluding on these teeth. When the night guard was removed, only the patient’s front teeth came into contact. This has resulted in severe degradation of her teeth and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain. This extreme pain brought the patient to come see us, and we are working to correct her bite back to its normal position. A big investment for something that could have been prevented with a custom night guard.
I think I need a custom night guard, what do I do?
Custom night guards are created from an exact model of your mouth. We capture these details by either taking a mold of your teeth or scanning your teeth with our intraoral iTero scanner. Once your night guard has been fabricated, we will deliver it and schedule multiple appointments to verify fit with your teeth and bite. For more information on nightguard options please contact your dentist or orthodontist today.