Is a $700 mouth guard better for your dentist or for you?
If you are one of the more than 30 million Americans who grind your teeth, your dentist has probably recommended that you purchase a mouthguard. When it comes to choosing between buying a $10 to $50 custom moldable or configurable mouth guard and buying a dentist made mouth guard for $300 to $700, you may not be surprised that most dentists recommend mouth guards. mouthpieces made by dentists. But who benefits more from these dentist-made mouthguards, you or your dentist?
In a recent phone survey conducted in the Boston area, several dentists were charging $300-$700 for the exact same dentist-made mouthguard, so if you decide to purchase a dentist-made mouthguard to prevent teeth grinding your teeth wear down, you may want to be a smart shopper and call first to compare prices.
I recently asked at the Yankee Dental Congress in Boston how much it cost dentists to make dentist-made mouthguards. The various companies that make the systems used to make the shields said the price of the materials is about $12 per custom mouthguard. Add to that technician time, and I was assured “the cost is well under $100 – these are very high return items for dentists.” I wasn’t surprised, but this does seem to present a potential conflict of interest for a dentist to decide whether to recommend you buy an inexpensive over-the-counter mouthguard or an expensive dentist-made mouthguard.
More and more brands of inexpensive custom-moldable mouthguards have become available in recent years. Some of the units were designed by dentists who say they are as good (or in some cases better) than dentist-made mouth guards.
Any mouth guard could make your pain worse if the sensation ends up feeding your teeth grinding and clenching habit and make you grind and clench more. Since dentists don’t offer money-back guarantees on the custom mouthguards they make, you may want to try one or two of the inexpensive over-the-counter versions before spending a lot of money on a dentist-made mouthguard. You may also want to try biofeedback, which is free to try, to see if that can significantly reduce your grind your teeth and trigger and reduce or eliminate your pain. There are plenty of other things you can try, and it makes sense to try things first that can be tried for free or with a money-back guarantee.