dental patient inserts a mouth guard while sitting

Drugstore vs Professional Mouth Guards: Which is Right for You?

A mouth guard covers your teeth and gums. When you think about this kind of medical
device, you might naturally think about sports. Adults and children participating in contact
like hockey, rugby, boxing, and football wear mouth guards to protect their teeth and
cushion against impact.

However, that’s not the only kind of mouth guard available! A dentist may prescribe one to
wear while you sleep, to protect you against the effects of bruxism (clenching and grinding of
teeth), or to maintain your teeth after orthodontic work like braces. These are also sometimes
referred to as night guards

Why You May Need A Mouth Guard or Night Guard

Our mouths can tell us a lot about our overall health. A quick glimpse at your teeth can
provide your dentist with a lot of information! There are a couple of reasons why a dentist
may recommend or prescribe a mouth guard. The most common dental concern is a
condition called bruxism.


If you unconsciously grind or clench your teeth, you might be dealing with this condition.
Signs of bruxism include jaw and neck pain, tooth sensitivity, a locked jaw, chipped teeth, or
worn tooth enamel. In addition, this condition will often impact people dealing with stress,
anxiety, or overwhelming frustration. A custom mouth guard creates a barrier between your
upper and lower teeth, so you can’t grind them. This eliminates the resulting unnecessary
(and often painful) tension in the jaw.

Post-braces Maintenance

If you recently had orthodontic work done, your dentist may prescribe a mouth guard or
retainer to keep everything in place. If you are dealing with bruxism while wearing braces,
your dentist can also prescribe a custom night guard that will fit on top of them.


If you’re waking up still exhausted, there might be an oral health issue to blame. Regardless
of your chief complaint, a mouth guard lets your jaw relax so that you can sink into a deeper
slumber. A dentist can chat with you about potential TMJ disorders, which can be caused by
arthritis, injury, or genetics

Seek Medical Guidance

If you ignore bruxism or TMJ disorders or neglect your teeth after braces, you could
wind up with long-term damage. Prolonged clenching and grinding will significantly impact
your jaw joints, and a lack of post-braces maintenance could let teeth move back to their
original spots. The more you let the issues add up, the harder it will be to fix them. If you’re
anxious about dental treatments, we completely understand and are here to help.

Comparing Custom Guards Against Drugstore Guards

If you’re considering which type of mouth guard to get, a custom one from your dentist is the
best option. It will be more expensive, but it’s much more comfortable and effective.

A drugstore mouthguard is cheap, but you get what you pay for. When you purchase a
mouth guard from a drugstore, you’ll likely wind up with a boil-and-bite option. You must dip
the plastic guard in boiling water and shape it into your mouth. While these are durable in
the short term (they have to be to hold up during a sports game!), they’re not exactly
comfortable. Likely, trying to sleep with one of these in your mouth isn’t going to go well.

A custom mouth guard is made in a lab. It is shaped using a mold or impression of the
patient’s teeth. This ensures a proper fit – and better sleep! With a custom mouth guard, your
dentist can select a thickness appropriate for the patient’s condition. For example, if you have severe bruxism, a thicker mouth guard is a good option. On the other hand, if the mouth
guard is just for maintaining teeth structure after braces, and there’s no worry about
clenching or grinding, the custom mouth guard can be made much thinner. Your dentist can
assess your condition and make the appropriate recommendation on your prescription.

The materials used in a custom mouthguard are often stronger than the plastic in the
boil-and-bite variety, so they’ll last longer.

What To Do If You Think You Need A Mouth Guard

If you’re waking up with face or jaw pain, or relentless headaches and fatigue, you might be
clenching or grinding your teeth during the night. These are important symptoms to
mention to your dentist during your next check-up. Your dentist will also look for evidence of
teeth grinding, like the wearing away of enamel or broken teeth.

If it’s determined that you need a mouth guard, you’re well on your way to relief! You’ll need
to see your dentist for a fitting and follow-up, but these appointments are super quick and
painless. In addition, mouthguards are often covered by health benefits.

If you think you need a mouthguard, book an appointment with Dr. Bains for your regular
dental check-up!

Frequently Asked Questions About Mouth Guards

How do I care for my mouth guard?

You can clean your custom mouthguard with a toothbrush and toothpaste! Give it a quick
cool rinse under the tap, then brush each section of the device. Rinse with cool water, and let
it dry. About once a week, let it sit in a glass of mouthwash for 20 minutes. The antimicrobials
will eliminate any lingering bacteria.

How long will my custom mouth guard last?

If you clean and store your mouthguard properly, it can last up to five years! Be sure to bring
it to each check-up so your dentist can take a peek to see how it’s holding up.

How much does a professional mouth guard cost?

Often, health insurance will cover the cost of mouth guards. In Canada, a dentist-made
mouth guard costs between $500 and $1000.

Is it worth it to get a custom mouthguard?

Absolutely! A custom mouth guard is more expensive, but it will last longer, is more
comfortable and more effective than a drugstore version.

Are custom mouth guards comfortable?

This is one of the biggest advantages of getting a custom mouthguard over a drugstore
option. When a dentist makes a custom mouth guard, it is molded to an impression of the
patient’s teeth. It’s an exact fit! If you have to wear a mouth guard while sleeping, this is
definitely the way to go.

How do I get a new custom mouth guard?

Book a check-up with your dentist! They’ll assess the condition of your current mouth guard,
and determine if you need a new one. They may be able to use the previous mold of your
teeth, or they may take a new one before requesting a replacement night guard from the lab.