Mouthguards and Nightguards

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Mouthguards are flexible plastic appliances worn to protect the teeth, lips, cheeks, tongue, and jaw. They are used during activities that can damage the teeth, most often during contact sports and – surprisingly – during sleep.

Properly fitted mouthguards can also help reduce the risk of head, neck, and brain injury by absorbing and dispersing some of the shock caused by blows to the chin. Considering that the mouth is the most commonly injured part of the body during contact sports, mouthguards should be an essential component in most physical activities. Nightguards are specially designed mouthguards worn to protect the teeth from grinding (bruxing) or clenching of the jaw during sleep.

If you're considering using a mouthguard, the following information will provide you with a good introduction to the appliance. For more detailed information about how this appliance may help you, we recommend that you consult a dentist with experience in fitting mouthguards.


*Stock mouth guards typically range in cost from $1 to $15.

An effective mouth guard should be comfortable, resist tears, be durable and easy to clean, and should not restrict your breathing or speech.

If you grind your teeth at night, a special mouth guard-type of dental appliance called Nightguards may be created to prevent tooth damage.









  1. What are some of the most common benefits of this appliance?
  2. How are the treatments performed?
  3. How long do formed mouthguards take to make?
  4. Where are mouthguard impressions made?
  5. How much pain is there?
  6. What can I expect afterward?
  7. Ideal candidate:
  8. Other important information:
  9. Risks and Limitations:


What are some of the most common benefits of dental appliances?

Mouthguards worn during physical activity can prevent jaw fractures, concussions, cerebral hemorrhaging, laceration or bruising of the lips, cheeks or tongue and all sorts of dental trauma. Facial injuries, particularly dental trauma, can be painful and costly.

Nightguards can help relieve the sore jaws, worn teeth, headaches, and neck aches that may result from grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw while sleeping. Nightguards also prevent your teeth from wearing down or fracturing due to grinding.

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How are the treatments performed?

There are three types of mouthguards: stock, mouth-formed protectors, and custom-made mouthguards.

  • Stock mouthguards come in many shapes and sizes. However, they are bulky and can interfere with breathing and speech. They can be adjusted somewhat by trimming the edges, but this does not usually make them much more comfortable. Furthermore, the teeth must be kept clenched to hold the mouthguard in place. Not only are they awkward, but they offer the poorest protection. Stock mouthguards can be found at most drug and sporting goods stores.

  • Mouth-formed protectors come in two styles and are found at most sporting goods stores as well. The first type is lined with acrylic or rubber, which molds to the teeth and then sets to keep its shape. The second type is referred to as a boil-and-bite mouthguard. The mouthguard is softened in boiling water. While the guard is warm the user bites into the plastic, leaving an impression of the teeth. The boil-and-bite guards can be re-softened and shaped if you don't get the right fit on the first try. Mouth-formed guards provide better protection than the stock mouthguards but can still be bulky and interfere with breathing and speech.

  • Custom-made mouthguards are individually designed by your dentist. Since custom mouthguards are made from a cast of your teeth, they provide the best comfort and protection. They are more expensive, but most people report that they are well worth it. Not only are they more comfortable, but they also optimize healthy breathing. Custom mouthguards can be made in several colors and with team logos.

  • Nightguards are custom mouthguards made for the whole mouth, or just part of the mouth. Usually a spacer is attached to keep the rest of your teeth from touching. Your dentist will advise you on which type of guard is best for your condition.

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How long do formed mouthguards take to make?

Mouth-formed mouthguards take less than three minutes to shape. Custom mouthguard impressions also take just a few minutes to make, and they are usually available about a week after the initial impressions are made.

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Where are mouthguard impressions made?

Store bought, mouth-formed mouthguards can be fitted at home. Custom mouthguard impressions are made in your dentist's office.

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How much pain is there?

If the mouthguard fits correctly there should be no discomfort at all.

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What can I expect afterward?

Mouthguards may take some getting used to, but with the right fit they should be fairly comfortable. Nightguards can often alleviate headaches and jaw soreness within a few days (although this can depend on the severity of your condition).

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Ideal candidate:

In general, the best candidates for mouthguards are people who take part in any activity where there is a strong chance of physical contact with other people or hard surfaces. The American Dental Association recommends that mouthguards be worn while playing any of the following sports: racquetball, rugby, acrobatics, basketball, boxing, field/ice/roller hockey, football, lacrosse, martial arts, skiing, squashball, skydiving, surfing, volleyball, weight lifting, water polo, wrestling, skateboarding, softball, and bicycling.

The best candidates for nightguards are:

  • People whose teeth surfaces are worn down from grinding
  • People who frequently wake up with headaches or sore jaws
  • People whose teeth are sensitive to temperature changes, especially cold

The above is only a partial list of the criteria that your dentist will consider in determining whether or not this appliance is appropriate for you. Be sure to ask your dentist if he / she considers you an ideal candidate for mouthguard fitting.

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Other important information:

Mouthguards should be rinsed with cool (never hot) water after use. The guard should be washed periodically with soap and water, and occasionally brushed with a toothbrush. The guard should be kept in plastic box to keep it from being torn or crushed; this box should have ventilation holes so the guard can dry. Mouthguards should be kept out of sunlight and away from heat.

How long a mouthguard lasts depends on its construction and use. Stock and mouth-formed guards tend to wear out after several months of hard use. Custom guards usually last a year or more, depending on the materials used.

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Risks and Limitations:

The real risk is not wearing a mouth- or nightguard when you should.

Sanitation can become a problem if the mouthguard is not cleaned properly.

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The information on this web site is only intended as an introduction to this procedure and should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor as a guarantee of the result. The best method of determining your options is to consult qualified surgeons who are able to answer specific questions related to your situation.

*Disclaimer: Source: Most surgeons offer convenient payments plans for this procedure. Cost does not include anesthesia, operating room facility, hospital stay, and other related expenses. Costs may also vary depending on location.

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