Custom Vs. Off the Shelf Mouth Guards

Mouthguards come in over-the-counter and custom fit versions to meet various price ranges, materials, and levels of protection.

What are over-the-counter mouth guards?

Over-the-counter mouthguards are usually designed to meet a specific purpose. Sports guards are thicker to protect against impacts. Mouthguards designed to protect against grinding and clenching at night are thinner and more pliable. Mouthguards are initially blank u-shaped trays that are fitted to your teeth. The goal is to cover the top teeth with a barrier that protects against gnashing and grinding.

How are they fitted?

Over-the-counter plastic guards offer the most basic level of protection, but they cannot be customized to fit individual mouths.

“Boil and bite” guards introduce the next level of customized protection. By placing the “boil and bite” guard in boiling water, the plastic becomes pliable. It is then placed in the mouth and bitten down on gently, with care being taken not to bite through the mouthguard. Once the mouthguard has formed to your teeth, you can remove it and modify it for added comfort with scissors or a razor blade.

How well do they work?

Over-the-counter mouthguards work best when properly fitted after boiling. Proper fitting ensures the mouthguard stays in place when sleeping or open-mouthed. Even the most effective mouthguards will wear out faster if you grind, clench, or gnash teeth forcefully. When it comes to sports, thicker mouthguards may help protect against hits from pucks, balls, sticks, and elbows.

An over-the-counter mouthguard is better than nothing, but you need to consider alternatives if you dislodge your mouthguard when you sleep. If you clench or grind hard enough to bite through over-the-counter mouthguards, it may be time to go for a custom-fit mouthguard.


  • Cost-effective
  • Easy to find
  • Quick-fit process


  • Not durable enough for violent teeth grinders
  • Need to be replaced more frequently
  • Fitting can be tricky
  • Lower level of protection than offered by custom mouthguards

What are custom-fit mouth guards?

Custom-fit mouthguards are made with each patient’s specific grinding, clenching, or sporting activities in mind. Your dentist prescribes a custom-fit mouthguard and then goes through the process to determine the thickness and shape that fits your needs. An impression is made of the teeth, and a strong thermoplastic material is used to make the mouthguard.

No two custom mouth guards are the same since they are individually created from a unique impression. Whether designed for sports or nighttime grinding and clenching, custom mouthguards need no further adjustments. Most people only need the top guard, though bottom guards are used in certain situations.

How are they fitted?

An impression is taken of your teeth using a dental putty that copies your smile exactly. Dr. Weninger thoroughly examines your teeth’s wear patterns to determine appropriate thickness for specific areas of your custom mouthguard. This mold is then used to create a durable piece of customized dental equipment designed for specific protective tasks.

How well do they work?

Custom-fit mouth guards provide the optimal level of protection for their intended purpose. Because they are built to fit teeth snugly, you don’t need to worry about dislodging the mouthguard when you sleep or during regular sporting activities. Violent grinders experience relief from jaw pain and pressure with custom-fit, thicker mouthguards.


  • Optimal level of protection
  • Unrivaled durability
  • Double duty as teeth and jaw protector

Contact the team at Weninger Dentistry to ask about how a custom-fit mouthguard can potentially protect your teeth from injury and even alleviate jaw tension.