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Everything you need to know about custom mouthguards, including where to find Sydney’s best mouthguards

Sports-related injuries account for 40% of all dental injuries in New South Wales. And yet, only 36% of people wear a mouthguard during contact sports.

These statistics from the Australian Dental Association highlight a pretty alarming issue. Too often, our Sydney dental clinic sees injuries that a mouthguard could have prevented.

Dental accidents can lead to expensive, prolonged issues, including:

  • Damaged nerves
  • Chipped and broken teeth
  • Gum trauma
  • Tongue and lip damage
  • Broken or missing teeth
  • Ongoing jaw pain and headaches

But before you head to the chemist for a boil-and-bite mouthguard, it’s worth considering the benefits of a custom mouthguard fitted by one of the Sydney’s leading dentists.

Unlike an over-the-counter mouthguard, a custom mouthguard provides protection and comfort for you to play, train, or even sleep better. That’s right – there are different types of  mouthguards for teeth grinding, sleep apnoea and snoring during the night.

Types of mouthguards

Sports mouthguard

Custom sports mouthguards protect teeth, gums and jaw bone from impact injuries. They are specially designed to fit the wearer’s mouth, accounting for the size, shape and individual bite characteristics.

Anti-snoring mouth guard

Custom anti-snoring mouth guard (mandibular advancedment splint)

A custom anti-snoring mouth guard is a type of nightguard. It is used for people to alleviate snoring by repositioning the jaw in order to open the airway. A custom anti-snoring mouth guard is a hinged device that covers both the upper teeth, and the lower teeth. It functions by repositioning how the upper and lower jaws fit together. In most cases, it moves the lower jaw forward, in order to open up the airway. An unobstructed airway then alleviates snoring.

How is an anti-snoring mouth guard fabricated?

Like a custom night guard, a custom anti-snoring mouth guard is fabricated in a dental laboratory from a mold that is taken of the teeth. Our dentists will then prescribe the adjustments and instruct the lab on how to fabricate the anti-snoring mouth guard. It is then fitted, adjusted and dispensed to the patient.

Night Guards

Custom fabricated night guards

Custom night guards are mouth guards that are worn at night, that are made in a dental laboratory. They are fabricated based on a mold that we take of the mouth, and a prescription with specific instructions that we send to the laboratory.

What are custom night guards used for?

There are two main reasons to wear a custom nightguard. They are to prevent damage to the teeth and jaw joint when clenching grinding, and to treat a TMJ disorder. 

The most common reason is to prevent trauma to the teeth and jaw joints, due to clenching or grinding at night. A person that clenches or grinds their teeth at night can cause trauma to the teeth and jaw joints. Clenching and grinding of the teeth can put more load on the teeth and jaw joint than they are able to handle. This can cause wearing away of the tooth enamel, and can also result in chips, fractures and cracks of the teeth. This load can also cause damage to existing tooth restorations, such as dental fillings and dental crowns. The excessive load can also cause pain to the jaw joint due causing a TMJ disorder. A night guard is able to able to protect the teeth and jaw joints from this kind of damage.

The other main reason to wear a custom night guard is to treat an existing TMJ disorder. A custom fitted a night guard may be able to relieve some of the pain and other symptoms associated with TMJ disorder.

What causes a patient to clench or grind their teeth?

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Unbalanced bite
  • Mal-aligned teeth
  • Missing teeth
  • Sleep apnea
  • Airway obstruction

Is a custom night guard worn on the upper teeth or on the lower teeth?

A custom night guard may be worn on the upper teeth or the lower teeth, but not both. Our dentists at Pitt St Dental Centre will advised you the appropriate one to use.

How long should my custom night guard last?

The duration of time that a custom night guard remains functional, in order to achieve the goal of protecting the teeth and jaw, depends on how much a patient clenches and grinds. We have had patients that need to replace their night guard once per year, and some patients where their night guard have lasted for many years without replacement.

We instruct our patients to bring their night guard into our office whenever they come in for their usual checkups and teeth cleanings. We evaluate the night guard to make sure that it is still functional. When a night guard shows wear such as pitting or indentations, we advise patients to have it replaced. These indentations allow the teeth to lock into one place, reducing the effectiveness of the night guard.

Over-the-counter vs custom mouthguards

Over-the-counter night guard from a chemist

Mouth guards that can be bought in a drug store are severely inferior to a custom night guard. Because they are not custom made, they can be big and bulky, and feel uncomfortable.

Additionally, over-the-counter night guards, including heat moldable devices, are made out of soft materials. Our custom night guards are made out of a hard bite plate that cannot be clenched into. Over-the-counter night guards can cause an increased urge to clench and grind, as is a natural response to have any chewy material in the mouth. This is especially exasperated in times of stress. Although it may work minimally to protect the teeth, it can cause more damage to the TMJ joint, as one clenches and grinds more.

Over-the-counter mouthguards don’t offer the same level of protection as customised sports mouth guards and we often see detrimental injuries with those mouthguards.

Additionally, a majority of the over-the-counter nightguards contain BPA, which is a known carcinogenic. Over time, these materials release toxins into your body, as you teeth grind them into small fragments.

For all of the above reasons, we always suggest getting a custom night guard versus an over-the-counter night guard.

Can I use a custom mouthguard with braces?

You might be surprised to hear the answer is yes; you can get a custom mouthguard for braces.

Custom mouthguards prevent injuries to your teeth, gums, tongue, lips and cheek, as well as your braces. This is true for contact sports and sleeping alike.

Do I need to visit a Sydney dental clinic for a mouthguard?

Yes, only a professional dentist can make a custom mouthguard or splint.

What is involved in making a custom night guard?

Each custom night guard is different and fabricated to specifications unique to each patient specific needs. The first step is to have a thorough examination to identiy your needs. We then take a digital scan of the patient’s teeth and gum. This scan is then sent to our local Sydney dental laboratory with a prescription with specific instructions on how to make the night guard.

The mouthguard or the splint is then fabricated out of a BPA-free material. This produces a mouth guard that fits to the exact shape of our patients’ teeth. We then have our patients return to fit and adjust the night guard. During our evaluation of the night guard, we ensure that there is even load on both jaw joints, and that the bite is even everywhere.  We then adjust the nightguard accordingly. Once the nightguard is fitted and adjusted, you will get instructions for the care and use of your night guard.

You will be instructed to wear your night guard every night. You will also be instructed to bring your night guard with you to our office during your normal dental checkup and teeth cleaning appointments for re-evaluation.

Whether you need a custom-made mouthguard for contact sport, training, grinding or sleeping, Pitt Street Dental Centre is on your side. Schedule an appointment to get professional, high-quality advice on Sydney’s custom mouthguard and splints.

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