Soft Mouth Guards – Uses, Pros & Cons


The soft mouth guard is the one that many of us become familiar with at a very young age. This mouth guard is the type that is used in most types of athletics. This is just where it begins, however. The soft mouth guard is one that has, in and of itself, many different forms and purposes.


From What are Soft Mouth Guards Usually Made?

Although soft mouth guards are all usually made of similar materials, they can be manufactured in several different ways and have different uses. The material that is used in soft mouth guards is a rubber like material that is on most occasions some sort of hypoallergenic non-latex material.

What Are The Ways Mouth Guards Can Be Manufactured?

  • The most convenient way a soft mouth guard can be purchased is the one size fits all variety that is not custom fit to the patient’s mouth. Although cost effective, these mouth guards may have a few faults depending on the use that you desire.
  • The next most convenient and cost effective mouth guard is the at home custom fit mouth guard. These mouth guards are very similar to the one size fits all; however, there is one slight difference. They are made with the same material, however they are slightly custom fit for the patient at home. Usually, the patient will soften them in boiling water, first. The patient will then bite into the softened mouth guard as it cools in the mouth. Although this is a more “fit to the patient” design, it is still not ideal and can be made in a better way.
  • The next Top 5 Dental Labs For Custom Mouth Guards. With this type of mouth guard, the online company sends the patient a do it yourself impression kit to take an impression of the patient’s mouth. After the patient makes the impression, he or she will, most likely, make a model of the patient’s mouth from this impression. This impression is then sent back to the online company. The company will then manufacture a custom fit night guard to fit the patient’s mouth. This is still not the ideal way to manufacture soft mouth guards, but is a closer to the one made by the patient’s dentist and is also the next most cost effective.
  • The ideal form of the soft mouth guards is the one that is manufactured by the dentist’s office. This mouth guard can be slightly more expensive than some of the others, this is the least likely to cause any additional dental problems to which the others options may lead.

What Are The Uses For The Different Types Of Soft Mouth Guards?

  1. The ‘one size fits all’ and ‘at home boil to fit’ types of mouth guards are usually the types that are used by patients for sports purposes. They can sometimes be used for temporary relief of clenching and grinding, but can lead to further problems for the patient in the future. Most of the time, these mouth guards are used for sports related activities.
  2. The online ordering option for a soft mouth guard is one that is usually used by the patient for biting and clenching. This is a temporary option, just like all other soft mouth guards. These, however, can be a more custom fit option for athletes that wear them for multiple hours at a time.
  3. The best option for a soft mouth guard is the one that is manufactured by the patient’s dentist. Like all others, this is a temporary option. This type of soft mouth guard can be used for grinding and clenching, but it is not to be used long term. This is the best option for soft mouth guards for this use and it is also the best option for athletic purposes.

What Sre The Downfalls To a Soft Mouth Guard?

Even though a soft mouth guard can be used short term for biting and clenching purposes and for athletic purposes, they should not be considered a long term solution. If worn for extended periods of time, these can actually make grinding and clenching worse.

In addition to this, if they are being used for sleep apnea reasons, they can make this worse as well. If not adjusted properly, due to their thickness, the material of the sleep apparatus, due to its thickness, can actually make snoring and breathing problems worse.


How Significant Are The Cost Differences In The Different Types of Mouth Guards?

Obviously, the one size fits all type of mouth guard will be the least expensive, followed by the boil to fit type. Both of these can be purchased for approximately $20.

The next most expensive is the online, mail order type of soft mouth guard. This one can be purchased, usually, for under $200. The most expensive of all of these is the custom fit, made in office type that comes from the patient’s dentist. This is somewhat more expensive than the mail in variety, but these have some advantages that the others do not.


What Are The Advantages of The Office Made Mouth Guard?

With an office made variety of mouth guard, the dentist will ensure that the bite of the patient is not being compromised in any manner. In addition to this, by being created by a licensed dentist, this type of mouth guard is eligible to be covered under some dental insurance plans. With that being said, after dental insurance coverage, the patient can sometimes end up paying less for a soft mouth guard in the dentist’s office than what a one size fits all type of mouth guard would cost out of pocket.


What is The Bottom Line on Soft Mouth Guards?

In summation, one should always consult their dentist before having a dental treatment completed. This includes a mouth guard. This is especially true regarding mouth guards that are intended to be worn for a long period of time or for extended times during a single day.



Okeson JP.

J Am Dent Assoc. 1987 Jun;114 (6): 788 – 91.

Justin Clemens
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