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Mouthguards – Generic or Custom?

Mouthguards are protective devices worn over the teeth, primarily to prevent injuries to the teeth, gums, tongue, and jaw. They are common in contact sports, but are also used to reduce nighttime teeth grinding (bruxism) and temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJD). If you need a new mouthguard, then you will want to consider your choices carefully to benefit the most from your purchase.

Types of Mouthguards

There are several types of mouthguards, but they all generally fall into two large categories, generic and custom-made. Since the generic mouthguards are all cheaper, some people feel the choice is already made. That is a very shortsighted way of looking at the issue. Let’s consider the differences between them, and why a customized mouthguard is a strong example of getting what you pay for.

Generic Mouthguards

Generic mouthguards are pre-formed and ready to wear. They are widely available in sporting goods stores, some drugstores, and in online marketplaces. They are the least expensive option and typically are easy to buy and use right away.

Here’s why generic mouthguards are so cheap. They tend to be made from less durable materials, so they wear out faster. Generic mouthguards are often thicker and bulkier, which can make breathing and speaking more difficult. These types of mouthguards typically do not fit well, which can be uncomfortable and far less effective at protecting an individual’s teeth.

Another type of generic mouthguard is known as the boil-and-bite mouthguard. These are semi-customizable, but definitely not as effective as a custom mouthguard. Users soften the thermoplastic material in hot water and then bite into it to shape the plastic around their teeth. These are popular for their affordability, availability, and tendency to fit better than a pre-formed generic guard. With proper care, this mouthguard lasts the user up to 12 months.

Custom Mouthguards

Custom mouthguards are made by a dentist or a dental laboratory based on a mold of the user’s teeth. They provide the best fit, because they are tailored to the individual’s teeth. They are much more comfortable and less likely to interfere with speaking and breathing. The precise fit offers better protection against impacts and reduces the risk of injuries in sports or damage from teeth grinding. Made from high-quality materials, custom mouthguards can last up to 5 years.

Because they are the highest quality option, custom mouthguards are more expensive than generic options. Custom mouthguards also require a visit to the dentist to create the custom mold that the guards are made from. Custom guards take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to be completed. Many are manufactured with digital images, instead of the patient making a mold by chomping down on dental plaster.

An Individual Choice

Choosing between a generic and a custom mouthguard often depends on the specific needs and budget of each individual. For serious athletes or those with severe bruxism, the benefits of a custom mouthguard often outweigh the higher cost and wait time due to the superior protection and comfort they offer. Of course, any mouthguard is generally better than no mouthguard, and if you forget your own while traveling, purchasing a generic for use over a short period is a good idea.

If you would like to experience the comfort and superior protection provided by a customized mouthguard, feel free to contact our office and set up a consultation appointment today!

Jul 11, 2024 | Dental Facts

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