occlusal guard & splint

Occlusal Guard or Splint | Is It Effective?

This article has been medically reviewed and verified by Dr. Lara Coseo (DDS, FAGD) as of 6/10/2020. She is a 2004 graduate of Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas, TX. Having practiced general dentistry for 13 years, Dr. Lara currently serves as an Associate Professor at Texas A&M College of Dentistry.

If properly cared for, human teeth can last their entire lifetime.

The Academy of General Dentistry reports that there is no reason senior citizens can’t keep their natural teeth for a lifetime since tooth loss is the result of oral issues not due to aging. This is where the occlusal guard comes in.

Healthy teeth may be important aesthetically but they’re also GREATLY linked to overall health within the body.

A majority of the people believe that just brushing your teeth daily is a guarantee for a good dental health but it is not. Practicing good dental health goes beyond just keeping them clean. Keeping your teeth protected from the effects of teeth grinding and clenching by using an occlusal guard means ensuring your teeth are there for you in the future. 

What is an Occlusal Guard?

An occlusal guard is more commonly referred to as a night guard.

It is a clear appliance that is worn over the teeth much like a glove to protect the teeth from damage resulting from bruxism. Bruxism is a term that refers to the habit of grinding and/or clenching the teeth at night or during the day.

“Occlusal” simply refers to the biting or grinding portion of the tooth surfaces. These “chewing” surfaces of the teeth need protection against the constant force of clenching and/or grinding.

A “guard” can be made from a variety of different materials including a hard, non-flexible material, a soft material or even a combination of both.

What is an Occlusal Splint?

The occlusal splint is generally a hard, non-flexible device made of processed acrylic resin. The function is to guide or steer the jaw as it moves side-to-side and front-to-back. This can greatly help with TMJ or jaw misalignment issues.

Who needs an Occlusal Guard?

Persons that grind or clench their teeth in a habitual way (night after night) should wear an occlusal guard to protect their teeth and gums.

Teeth grinding (medically referred to as the bruxism) is a condition that mostly occurs involuntarily. The patient grinds, clenches or gnashes the teeth and it mostly occurs at night time while asleep. In some cases, it can happen during the day and involuntarily.

Teeth grinding wears your teeth down over time. Bruxism may cause teeth fractures thus leading to possible bacterial infections and/or expensive dental restoration work. The condition also causes week contact between the teeth and the jaws and this simply means that you might lose your teeth at a very early age.

Tooth grinding is most often caused by sleeping habits and stress. These two conditions must be treated to stop this condition. A toothpick is useful for cleaning areas between teeth but you should be very care not to touch the gum. Also, forcing toothpick between teeth puts undue stress that can cause microscopic cracks in teeth. Make proper use of the toothpick and do not over use it for healthy teeth.

Occlusal Guard Price

occlusal guard price

In the dental office, Occlusal guard price ranges from $300-$800 depending on where you are located in the world. Dental offices in Alabama may charge hundreds less than let’s say downtown San Francisco.

Online, custom night guard prices range from $100-$200.

How do Occlusal Guards work?

Occlusal guards do not cure teeth grinding. To date, there is still no known cure for teeth grinding. Effectively, these custom night guards provide a barrier between the chewing surfaces of the teeth so that the destructive forces take a break from meeting each other night after night. This gives your jaw a break and allows your teeth to avoid the damage(s) from constant grinding and teeth grinding.

Wearing a night guard is the best way to prevent further damage and relieve the associated symptoms of teeth grinding such as headaches, jaw pain, teeth pain, facial soreness, teeth flattening/cracking/breakage.

What are Occlusal Guards made of?

Occlusal guards can be made from a variety of plastic materials including silicon, ethylene vinyl acetate, copolysters and more. Your dentist or provider should be able to provide a list of the materials used in their products. Be sure to check if your dental night guard is BPA free. If you have allergies to plastics or chemicals do your research. A reputable provider should be able to answer your questions and guide you to the right night guard type for you.

Things to avoid to protect your teeth from further damage

Using teeth as tools
The primary purpose of teeth is to grind food to ease digestion. They are not meant for cracking hard materials and other odd jobs people expose them to. Some of the odd jobs where many use their teeth on include tearing open plastic bags, straightening a bent folk and uncapping soda bottles among others. Most people have at one time or another for using their teeth to uncap their drinks. These activities can cause the teeth edge to weaken or even fracture. Keeping necessary tools such as bottle openers and scissors on hand is the safest way of avoiding such cases.

High intake of caffeine, alcohol or drug stimulants
Cigarettes and other tobacco products are mostly associated with health problems such as lung cancer but little is said about teeth damage.

Several studies have shown that cigar smokers are at high risk of bone and tooth loss. Tobacco is a stimulant that contains a substance called nicotine that not only destroys the lungs but teeth too. Nicotine settles on the teeth enamel gradually turning them yellow. With time the teeth will decay. The substance is also known for inhibiting saliva making in the mouth and this promotes bacteria build up.

Caffeine and alcohol have similar effects as tobacco. High intake of both significantly promotes tooth decay over time. Research has also suggested that people who ingest stimulants daily are more susceptible to bruxism disorders. This leads to the need of an occlusal guard or splint.

It is therefore important to reduce the intake of concentrated coffee and also the frequency of taking alcohol.

Crunching on ice and sugary drinks
Many of us love cold drinks, particularly during summers. Ice-cold soda or iced tea is a favorite to many while crunching the left over ice is such an amazing feeling. But these enjoyments can be harmful to your dental health.

The material forming the outer tooth structure (enamel) is very sensitive to temperature fluctuations. The cold temperature of the ice can cause your teeth to have microscopic cracks or fracture. These cracks will expose the teeth to bacterial infections and does not end well. You also should stop the habit of crunching popcorn since it puts undue stress on the teeth and can also cause tiny fractures.

Avoid sipping sugary and acid beverages
especially sodas throughout the day. It is important to note that you may be feeding bacteria with some of these sugary drinks.

Acidic beverages are also known for fostering tooth decay. If you have to sip your favorite drink, try to use a straw to minimize teeth exposure. Additionally, hard breath mints are not good for your teeth and you should avoid them. The bottom line is, be mindful of what you put in your mouth since it will have an impact on your dental health in future.

Remember, you need your teeth for a lot more than smiling. If you realize that some dental problems are cropping up, it is important to have it checked immediately by your dentist. Dental health should be emphasized from an early age to avoid complicated cases in future. A mouthguard for sleeping is a great investment in yourself and your health.

It is also advisable to have your teeth checked at least twice in a year. Wearing an occlusal guard or sometimes called a bite splint is a responsible, preventative measure and will save you hundreds of dollars in expensive dental repairs down the road.


Crout, Danny K. DMD, MS (2016) Anatomy of an Occlusal Splint. ADA GENERAL DENTISTRY March/April 2017, 52-59

Carlier, Jean-Francois (2011), Usefulness of Occlusal Splints. J Dentofacial Anom Orthod 2012;15:20. Ó RODF/ EDP Sciences, 1-11

Goncalves DA, Bigal ME, Jales LC, Camparis CM, Speciali JG. Headache and symptoms of temporomandibular disorder: an epidemiological study. Headache 2010;50:231–41.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Safety Update

Dear Customers,
We know that many of you are concerned about the Coronavirus (COVID-19). We would like to reassure you that we are using the most current information available to mitigate risk. We are closely monitoring the information provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for guidance and will continue to update our procedures accordingly.
Please note we do not outsource ANY dental work to other countries. All production occurs within our lab in the USA. Additionally, our small employee number makes communication and cooperation within our team much easier to manage than larger corporations. We are all on board in making sure we take extra measure to protect the public from harm.
We take the cleanliness and sanitation of our products and facility very seriously. Sentinel Mouthguards always has full time cleaning staff and has added additional procedures during this time. We are also regularly communicating with staff members and stressing the importance of following the general flu prevention guidelines. For everyone’s convenience and safety, we have added additional hand sanitizer stations throughout our facility.
Sentinel Mouthguards takes the safety, health, and well-being of our staff and customers very seriously and will continue to vigilantly monitor the situation.

A note from the CDC on shipping products and packaging:

“In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 in the United States with goods.”

What are public health officials are saying about receiving packages?

Ask the delivery person to leave the package outside. Open the package with a glove or wipe. Dispose of the packaging and glove/wipe outside. Wipe down the contents of the package with disinfectant and bring the contents inside.
Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions, concerns, or suggestions.
Thank you,
Ashely Notarmaso
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dentist made night dental guards

Dental Night Guard Cost

Why Do Dental Night Guards Vary so Much in Cost?

Store bought “ready to wear” dental night guards cost as little as $20.00. Some dentists are charging upwards of $800. Online, you can purchase a custom made night guard by taking your own dental impression for as little as $99.00. What gives?

Sometimes your dentist can justify the price of what dental night guards cost.

For example, dentists could be making a complex guard for you to treat misalignment of the jaw or sleep apnea.

If your dentist is making you a traditional custom night guard with no bells and whistles, a better option financially, might be to buy a custom night guard online.

Teeth grinding or bruxism is not only painful, but can also be harmful to ones’ dental health. It can result in the fracturing of teeth and eventually tooth loss. In some chronic cases, it could even lead to jaw disorders, such as temporomandibular joint disorder and change the appearance of the face. The worst part is that it usually happens when the person is asleep and unaware.

So why does a night guard cost so much?

If you find yourself in the market for a dental night guard and you’re unsure of which route to take, there is comfort (not to mention savings) in knowing your options.

The good news is, dental night guards were created to counter the effects of bruxism. They do work. Wearing a dental night guard offers excellent protection for the teeth and can alleviate teeth pain, jaw pain, headaches and more!

The night guard is a removable appliance worn during sleep to protect teeth and the jaw from the damage caused by clenching by reducing its hazardous effects.

The question is –why the wide difference in night guard cost? And which is better? The ones made by dentists or the direct night guard labs online? To help individuals in their decision making, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each one.

Dentist-Made Night Guard

Pros of going through your dentist:

1. The primary advantage of choosing to go to your local dentist for your night guard is convenience.

He or she will do all the work for you. During the initial visit, the dentist will take impressions of your teeth and fill out the necessary paper work as your teeth impression is sent to a professional dental laboratory for fabrication.

A return visit is required to fit the fabricated night guard once it has been shipped to your dentist.

2. Fitting adjustments.

If your night guard needs some minor adjustments, it’s more convenient to visit your dentist and have them make them to any areas of concern.

3. Ability to make a more customized type.

Custom dental night guards can become more involved if a person is being treated for TMJ or alignment issues.

If a dentist recommends you wear a night guard with special metal clasps, or ramps, etc., because of TMJ, alignment or other issues; you will not want to go through an online night guard lab. You will need to rely on and trust the expertise of your dentist.

And the not-so-good side of going through a dentist…

1. Price.

The downside is that it could cost you anywhere from $300 up to $1200+.

Many times the dental night guard cost is not covered by your insurance. On the brighter side of things, given that the night guard you purchase from your dentist is made from a mold of your teeth impression, it usually has a snug and comfortable fit compared to over the counter options.

2. No guarantee.

Many dentists (not all – there are some great ones out there) do not offer any sort of money back guarantee. Check with your dentist to see if he/she will refund you if you’re not satisfied.

Most online night guard labs offer full refunds if you’re dissatisfied for any reason.

Custom Dental Night Guards Purchased Online

The Pros:

1. Exactly the same night guard as the one you buy from a dentist (unless your dentist is fashioning a more complicated type to treat sleep apnea, TMJ, misalignment, etc).

Today, consumers have an option of buying custom made night guards online.

Dental guards purchased online have the same quality as the ones you get from a dentist. This is not only because it is custom made, but because the same dental labs where your dentist gets your night guards are the same guys and gals that fabricate the night guards you get directly online.

That was wordy. What we meant to say is: It’s the exact same thing!

2. Price.

The best part is that you could save around $300 to $800 by skipping your dentist’s high fees. Dental night guards online will cost you from $100-$200. Getting the same quality for a lower price is indeed a great benefit. Plus, Sentinel Mouthguards offers free all-inclusive shipping on any product.

different types of dental night guards
Sentinel Mouthguard Co. offers 3 different types of custom night guards to choose from + you pick your desired thickness. All-inclusive free shipping in the USA!

3. Money back guarantee and/or satisfaction guarantee.

Finding the right night guard can sometimes feel a lot like the Goldilocks’ dilemma. Too thick. Too thin. Too soft. Too hard. Personal preference varies and what works great for one may not work for another. Again, a reputable night guard lab will work with you to find your perfect night guard match, even after you’ve received your product. This is what 100% satisfaction means!

A few “cons” of going the online route:

1. You are responsible for the outcome of your own dental impression.

Making your own teeth impression from the home kit provided is easy, but requires your focus. You must read the instructions and watch the tutorial video before attempting your dental impression.

Note that reputable dental night guard labs should have no problem sending you a new dental impression kit for free if you don’t get your impression right at first.

2. Any adjustments to your night guard device that may be needed are easier to perform in a dental office when the patient is present and can work with the dentist to reach satisfaction of fit.

However, you can still get adjustments made through an online night guard lab. You should be aware the this will take more time because of the mailing correspondence involved. Also, most reputable online dental night guard sellers will offer money back guarantees to ensure customer satisfaction.

How much does a night guard cost from the dentist?

Dental office night guard cost

Professionally Made Night Guard From Dentists

These are custom dental night guards ordered directly from your dentist.

Usually, the dentist takes a mold of your teeth then sends it to a lab, where your own customized dental night guard is created.

These night guards are very effective at preventing teeth grinding at night as they are custom fitted for your teeth specifically.

They vary in thickness depending on the severity of teeth grinding.

In addition to preventing teeth grinding, custom night guards curb jaw strain and enhance better jaw muscle positioning, preventing long-term teeth grinding and clenching. They are comfortable to wear and can last for a very long time if well taken care of.

However, this is the most expensive option out there, with the price falling in the range of $300 to $1200 depending on the dentist. The dental office price can vary greatly, depending on which state you live in and the particular area within that state (ex: in NYC the price for a night guard averages over $1k.)

So,how much is a mouth guard from the dentist?

This answer depends on where you are located in the world. Generally speaking, a dental night guard from your dentist will cost between $400-$900.

What kind of dental night guards should I buy?

First, what to avoid:
The Sports Mouth Guard
blue sentinel athletic mouthguardSports mouth guards are very common; this is because it is mandatory for young children to have them on while playing most sports. They are made of stiff plastic, making them uncomfortable to wear for long hours. Some can be boiled then molded to your teeth, but they tend to be bulky. They are a great option for protecting teeth from impact during sport activities.

Do not wear a sports mouth guard as a dental night guard substitut

They are not as effective as dental night guards because their structure and material causes sleeping and breathing difficulties. In fact, they can worsen bruxism and may cause jaw problems because of their bulky nature and bad fit.

Alternative Night Guard Choices

Over the Counter Dental Night Guard

You do have the option of purchasing a night guard from some convenience stores such as CVS or Walmart. These are made of plastic and most come with some sort of fitting instructions such as boiling the plastic appliance in hot water and then molding to your teeth.

These types are affordable as their price falls in the range of $15 -$30 and can are often labeled as “custom” dental night guards. However, there are looming problems with mass produced “one size fits all” night guards.

Some are made of thick plastic and one may find them rather uncomfortable to wear. Many people complain that the excess material towards the back and up the sides makes it difficult to wear. Others are thin but do not stay in place. Also the plastic material is cheaper. This is not dental grade material designed for enduring the act of teeth grinding and clenching. The cheaper material tends to wear down much quicker.

Professional Night Guard from Online Stores

These are custom dental night guards ordered from online stores. Sentinel Mouthguards is a direct business to consumer specialized laboratory that will send you supplies and instructions to help you take a mold of your teeth.

We then use your mold to create a customized dental night guard. The produced appliances are the same high quality dental night guard as you would get from your own dentist, serving the same service of comfort and protection.

This is a less expensive, yet very reliable alternative to purchasing from your dentist, as the level of quality is the same.

Price falls in the range of $90 to $140, making this a very effective and cheap option to go for.

Basically, dentists are more expensive as you pay them for taking the mold of your teeth; this is the only difference between the two, unless your dentist is making a more complex appliance (such as one for TMJ that sets the jaw into desired position).

Check out our frequently asked questions page for more information on how it works, the Sentinel guarantee (something a dentist very rarely offers) and more!

How much do professional night guards cost from online stores?

With the many options out there, you may be split for choice.

The option of buying “one size fits all” type of mouth guards, may seem as a convenient temporary fix to prevent teeth grinding; however, this may not give you service for a long time.

You can comfortably enjoy the services of a professional dental lab at a fraction of the price by buying from an online store.

This is a convenient option because the mouth guard is custom made to suit your mouth, it saves you money, and it is hassle-free.

There are many online stores out there dealing with selling of mouth guards, ensure you go to a credited source to avoid the risks associated with fraudsters.

In today’s world, most people underestimate the importance of dental care. They fail to understand that oral issues can lead to wide range of disorders affecting different regions of the body. As a result, it is quite essential that you understand what your oral health requirements are.

The cost of a high quality, custom dental night guard might seem too much for some, but in reality, it is a worthy investment.

In conclusion

Healthy strong teeth are vital, not just for proper dental health, but also for comfort and well-being.

If diagnosed with bruxism, don’t worry. Take the preventive measures recommended to ensure the problem does not evolve any further.

Most dentists often suggest expensive custom mouth guards, but by going to an online store, you can save a lot of money while enjoying the same level of comfort and protection.

Why spend $500+? You can save more than half the price by going for online options and having your mouth guards made at the same quality.

Whether you choose night guards made by your dentists or purchase custom made online night guards, we hope that you sleep better knowing that your teeth grinding won’t cause damage to your dental health, and that you purchased the best night guard available today (custom made) to suit your needs.

dental night guard as anti-aging device

Why a Dental Night Guard is Your New Anti-Aging Secret

Oh the anti-aging industry– a multi billion dollar production of over priced lotions and potions and serums. I, myself, just spent $75 on a small bottle of Retinol cream in hopes that these new lines and wrinkles appearing on my 37 year old face will magically disappear.

Alas, as Oprah Winfrey so eloquently says “even the most beautiful flower will wilt over time.”

Nevertheless, I shall continue to fight the good fight and there is one overlooked anti-aging secret that can make you appear YEARS younger; The Dental Night Guard.

How does it work?

By wearing a dental night guard at night you are protecting the teeth from wearing down and flattening.

Did you know? Shorter, flattened teeth are one of the most tell-tale signs of an aging woman or man?

Flat Teeth and Chipping are common signs of long term teeth grinding and jaw clenching.

“Is My Teeth Grinding Habit Making Me Look Older?”

When Glamour magazine ran an article last month about preventative aging & the benefits of wearing a night guard, many became enlightened to one of the sneakiest signs of aging. Teeth grinding and (as a result) teeth shortening.

Our Skin Is Nothing Without Good Bones, Muscles and Teeth Structure

Sometimes we forget that our skin is just a vessel for our bones and muscles. If a person undergoes changes to the teeth, whether they have them removed (and replace with dentures) or if the teeth have become much shorter over time,  it is common to notice sagging skin around the mouth and chin.

Physically, teeth grinding can have some long lasting effects. After years of wearing the teeth down, the face can develop a noticeable sagging appearance that cannot be fixed with anything less than expensive cosmetic work.

So why are my teeth flat?

The Problem With Short Teeth 

It’s no secret that teeth play a big role in the overall appearance of the face. The wearing down of teeth because of grinding and or clenching is a tell-tale sign of aging. Teeth that are too short age you. Other notable characteristics that can occur from teeth grinding are an enlarged jaw muscle (protrusion), and stress lines around the mouth.

Check to see if your teeth are too short

Stand in front of a mirror with your lips slightly apart in a relaxed position. If you relax your mouth and just leave it agape slightly, there should be between 1-3mm of tooth exposure. Do you see a little bit of your front teeth? If you do not, your teeth may be too short. This is not always a result of teeth grinding. This can simply be your natural dental anatomy. If you wish to have your teeth extended you can opt for direct bonding or porcelain veneers.

The Good News

It’s preventative.

A night guard acts as a preventative to the effects of teeth grinding and teeth aging. Think of it as putting your teeth in a perfectly fitting case each night before bed so that they remain safe and protected against well…yourself.

Simply wearing a night guard at night will prevent your teeth from wearing down. 1 in 10 people grind their teeth at night. A custom made dental guard is far less expensive than restorative cosmetic work. Preserve your teeth & face the natural way. It’s just as important and routine as putting face moisturizer on at night  to prevent dryness and excess wrinkles.

You’ve Decided To Wear A Night Guard? Great!

Now Keep It Clean

As you probably well know, wet and dark places are a great breeding ground for bacteria. Your night guard can go from a nice clear to yellow and smelly in a matter of months. Make sure you store your night guard in its original case. Clean with a soft toothbrush and a little toothpaste. Rinse thoroughly and store DRY. Dry is the secret to a clean long lasting night guard. You do not want water sitting in your guard night after night. Additionally, Efferdent makes a really great denture/retainer cleaner you can use once a week to preserve the life of your guard.

Additional Ways To Keep Yourself Young

Take Care of Yourself In A Natural Way 

Consumers will spend 290 billion  dollars this year (globally) on anti-aging products. There is always a latest and greatest product that claims reverse aging results. We think the best way to keep that healthy young look can be achieved spending as little money as possible.

Some tips to prolonging life spans and living well include:

  • Drinking purified water
  • Taking Vitamins
  • Wearing sunscreen
  • Exercising daily
  • Keeping stresses down
  • Eating raw fruits and vegetables

Other Reasons To Wear A Dental Night Guard At Night

Wearing a night guard has so many benefits! It prevents cracking and breaking of natural teeth and dental work. It will protect a new set of porcelain veneers, bonding, crowns & bridge work. If you wake up in the morning with jaw soreness, tension or pain this can be a sign that you’re either clenching your teeth at night or grinding them together.