We’ve talked about mouth guards before on the site, mostly as an overview of the different types of mouth guards available. (Link at the bottom.)
In our experience, however, there’s a big advantage of choosing a custom mouth guard at your pediatric dentist’s office. It may be simple to say that custom mouth guards fit better because they are molded to the exact shape of your child’s mouth. It’s a point every website on the topic makes.
We wanted to add to that discussion and explain why that matters as much as it does.
Nite Guards That Don’t Fit Properly Can Shift During Sleep
One of the biggest reasons to use a nite guard is to prevent damage from grinding the teeth at night.
A stock nite guard is better than nothing because it does provide padding between the top and bottom teeth to absorb that pressure. However, alignment with the individual teeth is important, and without that the nite guard can shift as your child moves around at night.
This can cause pressure to be unevenly distributed, and may not help to prevent jaw pain.
In some cases, an improper fit can also lead to teeth shifting as the mouth grows and jaw misalignment.
While sports mouth guards might only be worn for a couple hours, nite guards tend to be in the mouth for the entire night. That could be as much as 8-9 hours, or 33% of a child’s day. That’s a long time for misalignment to cause ill effects.
It’s an unfortunate and ironic twist, since nite guards are supposed to help with TMJ and other jaw issues and yet an improperly fitting mouth guard can actually make conditions like TMJ worse.
Custom Mouth Guards Are Thinner & More Comfortable
The downside of the basic mouth guards sold in stores that claim to conform to the shape of your child’s teeth is that the mouth guard needs to be thick enough to allow for compression. In other words, it needs to be thick enough that pressure allows for some give for teeth to make imprints in the material and conform around the teeth.
A custom mouth guard is much thinner because it’s molded to the exact shape of your child’s mouth and teeth. Its pre-made shape is already exactly what it needs to be, so it doesn’t have to make space for teeth to sink into.
That extra thickness can feel bulky in the mouth and also increase the odds of soreness for longer wearing sessions.
Better Protection During Sports
A mouth guard meant for sports, sometimes called a sports guard, provides padding for the teeth and helps disperse the impact force of a collision, making it less intense and less likely to cause damage.
A stray elbow or ball to the mouth can cause serious damage such as chipped teeth or knocking teeth out entirely.
A good fit is crucial for a mouth guard to do its job given the force at play in the event of a collision. If it’s loose it might knock against teeth (worst case) or simply not absorb as much impact.
No mouth guard, even a custom made one, is a guarantee against damaged teeth in those kinds of accidents. However, there are certainly times where the difference between a sore mouth or a knocked out tooth might have been a better fit.
Given how expensive chipped or missing teeth are to correct as problems, the extra expense of a custom-fit mouth guard is definitely worth it.
Call us today to discuss a custom-fit mouth guard for your child if you’re in the High Point, NC or surround area!