"Do I need a mouthguard that is custom-fitted for me or will an over-the-counter mouthguard work just as well?" We encounter this question often from patients who are looking for a mouthguard to protect their teeth from bruxism or sports-related dental problems. The question is a valid one. Of course, the answer depends on various factors such as the patient's personal preferences for budget, comfort, and level of protection. To help you decide, we have here for you some of the similarities and differences between the two kinds of mouthguards. Over-the-Counter Mouthguard These are similar to the mouthguards that many athletes wear when they play sports, except over-the-counter mouthguards are designed to keep teeth safe from teeth-grinding at night. Over-the-counter mouthguards are made of plastic. While sports mouthguards are thicker and more brittle, over-the-counter mouthguards are thinner and are made of more pliable plastic so that they are suitable for more applications. Over-the-counter mouthguards are formed through a process that requires the mouthguard to be placed in boiling water for a specified amount of time until the plastic gets soft and pliable and can then be molded to the teeth. This process is called boil and bite. Using an over-the-counter mouthguard to protect your teeth is better than not protecting them at all. Make note that if you move your jaw a lot during sleep, the mouthguard will not function as intended. Custom-Fit Mouthguards These are mouthguards that are prescribed and created by a dentist. They are made from a thermoplastic material. To create this kind of mouthguard, a detailed mold of your mouth and teeth is taken. Since they are highly personalized, the thickness of the mouthguard can be adjusted to perfectly fit based on the amount that you clench and grind your teeth. Custom mouthguards can be created for nighttime grinding or for use while playing sports. Since custom mouthguards are made with such precision, they can provide the wearer with the highest level of comfort and safety. This is the main advantage of custom-fit mouthguards when comparing to over-the-counter mouthguards. Custom-fit mouthguards are highly durable and unlike the over-the-counter variety, they do not lose their shape. They will last years before they need to be replaced. At Preston Dental Centre, we produce custom-fit mouthguards. Your dentist can do an evaluation to see if you are eligible, and if so, you can be fitted with a mold to create a top-quality mouthguard of your own. Don't let teeth grinding ruin your smile. Call Preston Dental Centre to make an appointment with your dentist!