The 10 Best Dental Guards

Updated June 19, 2017 by Chase Brush

10 Best Dental Guards
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We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Grinding your teeth at night can cause all kinds of issues, including jaw disorders, headaches and damaged teeth -- not to mention disturbing your partner. Eliminate the problem almost instantly with one of these dental guards, which can provide much-welcomed relief not only from bruxism, but also TMJ and occlusal plane flattening. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best dental guard on Amazon.

10. SmartGuard Elite

Featuring a newly improved design, the SmartGuard Elite is a great travel option for the tooth grinder on the go. The plastic retainers are constructed to fit both large and small mouths, and the package includes two units and one compact carry case.
  • prevents gagging
  • can be hard to keep in mouth
  • fits only the front 6-8 teeth
Brand SmartGuard
Model 5
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

9. Pro Dental 3-in-1

Whether you're using them for nighttime protection or for martial arts and other impact sports, these Pro Dental 3-in-1 have you covered. You'll also have access to direct dentist support should you need help with the molding or fitting process.
  • odor free and taste free polyvinyl
  • thick and durable case is included
  • trimming them is a pain
Brand ProDental
Model pending
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

8. Plackers Grind No More

Plackers Grind No More are 14 disposable, ready-to-use units that are both cost-effective and designed to provide the highest level of hygiene possible. Just pop them in and they instantly conform to your mouth shape. They are, however, rather small.
  • have bite plate alignment grooves
  • can wear for 3 days before disposing
  • the material is very thin
Brand Plackers
Model 302360518
Weight 3.8 ounces
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

7. Doctor Sleep Moldables

Doctor Sleep Moldables are made from advanced silicone materials, enabling them to deliver the safest and most comfortable feel possible. Just follow the simple molding instructions and receive a professional-quality fitting right in your own home.
  • double as an athletic sports guard
  • very affordable price
  • storage case sold separately
Brand Doctor Sleep
Model pending
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Primdent Oral Care Sleep Right

The Primdent Oral Care Sleep Right has been constructed from tough, high tensile material that doesn't require boiling. Its bite pads offer extra durability for heavy teeth grinders, while its flexible stability wings limit any interference with upper gum tissue.
  • patented self adjusting technology
  • anatomically designed frontal band
  • not for snoring problems
Brand Primdent Oral Care
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. DentalCare Labs Custom

The DentalCare Labs Custom comes as a pack of four moldable units in two different sizes. They're meant to prevent chronic bruxism as well as TMJ, but will just as easily function as teeth whitening trays and athletic mouthpieces.
  • easy molding process
  • made with bpa free material
  • may result in sore teeth
Brand DentalCare Labs
Model pending
Weight 4.8 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Intelliguard Pro Mouthpiece

At an overall size that is smaller than its competition, the Intelliguard Pro Mouthpiece easily repositions your mouth in order to open your airway for more comfortable breathing as you sleep. Its precision lock technology also keeps it in place after you set it.
  • ten incremental adjustments
  • measurements are easy to read
  • doesn't prevent teeth grinding
Model IG PRO
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. Armor Guard Pro-Form

The Armor Guard Pro-Form is a medical-grade option that is ideal for both day and night use. It is designed to relieve many of the most common TMJ symptoms while also protecting your teeth from both clenching and grinding during strenuous activities.
  • good value for price
  • comes in a choice of two materials
  • instructions aren't very clear
Brand Armor Guard
Model No Model
Weight 7.2 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. J&S Dental Custom Lab

Customization is the major selling point when investing in a J&S Dental Custom Lab. When ordering, you can choose either hard or soft acrylic materials, as well as your desired thickness, depending on your use and sleeping habits, for maintaining proper support.
  • made in the usa and germany
  • lasts for up to 5 years
  • includes 3 different tray sizes
Brand J&S Dental
Model pending
Weight 5.6 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. Sentel Custom Night Guard

For the moderate to tough teeth grinder looking for instant relief from facial pain and headaches, the Sentel Custom Night Guard provides both a superior fit and the maximum amount of jaw cushioning possible. It's also made from BPA-free and FDA-approved materials.
  • do-it-yourself impression kit
  • combats occlusal flattening
  • quick processing time
Brand Sentinel Mouthguard Co.
Model pending
Weight 4 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Protecting Those Chompers

Regardless of whether you're an athlete, experiencing jaw problems, or having aesthetic enhancement work completed, a dental guard can keep your teeth protected. Also referred to as a night or mouth guard, the dental guard is typically a flexible and custom-fitted protective device that fully covers a person's teeth and gums to prevent or reduce the chances for injury.

Dental guards are classified into three types: stock or ready-made, boil-and-bite, and custom-made. Stock dental guards are sold as over-the-counter solutions available in pre-formed sizes and are usually the least expensive of all three types. Because they are purchased pre-formed, there is no customization available with the exception of minor trimming with a knife or scissors. For that reason, they do not always fit perfectly and have the tendency to be on the bulky side.

Boil-and-bite (or mouth-adapted) dental guards are also pre-formed and available over the counter. They are made from thermoplastic materials designed to be heated, placed in the mouth, and molded to fit more closely to a person's teeth. Boil-and-bite guards are most popular among amateur and semi-professional athletes.

Custom-made dental guards are the most comfortable and desirable type available. They are professionally-crafted by specialists to exacting specifications of a person's teeth using an impression kit with dental putty that can be used either in a dentist's office or at home, depending on the user's preference. The custom dental guard is then fashioned in a lab using the impressions taken from the user's teeth.

How To Guard Your Teeth

Besides protecting teeth from high-impact exercise by acting as physical barriers, dental guards offer many other advantages. They are often used in conjunction with bleaching gel to whiten the teeth. They are also used during dental restoration procedures, such as with crown work and when installing veneers. When applying topical medications for dental conditions, the guard is useful for keeping the medicine applied to a person's teeth and gums as long as possible.

Dental guards can also be used to treat disorders of the temporomandibular joint, particularly by alleviating pressure on the joint while reducing pain. These guards are especially useful for people who suffer from bruxism (or teeth clenching). Finally, the majority of dental guards are durable and relatively easy to keep clean.

The specific application required will determine the type of dental guard one invests in. In many cases, a guard is necessary to retain orthodontic work that has been completed (to prevent teeth from moving) as well as to prevent a person from clenching their teeth at night. For these reasons, custom-made guards are often the best choice due to their durability, flexibility, and ability to ensure a proper fit using an impression kit. Also, a custom-made guard offers one the choice of having their dentist take an impression or using the impression kit at home to accomplish this before sending it out to a lab for fabrication.

Ensuring that a dental guard is tasteless and constructed from BPA-free materials is also important. The last thing you want is to be tasting something weird in your mouth all the time. Some people are extremely sensitive to flavors, so the less foreign material that goes into your dental guard, the better off you'll be. In fact, the device should hardly be noticeable at all.

From Boxing To Bruxism: A Dental Solution That Fits

The most popular belief is that the dental guard was originally conceived for use in boxing and other high-impact sports. The earliest guards were simply small pieces of cotton, tape, sponge, or wood, which boxers would clench between their teeth. The problem with this early solution was that teeth clenching was distracting to boxers trying to focus on their opponents during a match. As an answer to this problem, British dentist Woolf Krause began producing dental guards for boxers in 1892 made from a natural rubber resin called gutta-percha.

Krause's son, Philip, is generally credited with the development of the reusable dental guard, referred to as a gum shield, which was featured in a 1921 championship fight between Jack Britton and Ted Kid Lewis. Ted Lewis was a friend of the Krause family and the first professional to make use of the technology. The dental guard continued to grow in boxing relevance through the 1920s, particularly during a 1927 fight between Jack Sharkey and Mike McTigue. A chipped tooth that cut McTigue's lip forced him to forfeit the match. From that point on, the dental guard was validated as an acceptable tool for use during boxing matches.

Beginning in the 1930s, mouth guards gained mention within dental literature, particularly with respect to custom-made guards fashioned with rubber and wax impressions. Another major breakthrough occurred in 1947 when Los Angeles dentist Rodney O. Lilyquist used transparent acrylic resin to form what he called an acrylic splint. The splint was carefully molded to fit over the upper or lower teeth. This marked a significant improvement over earlier types of guards with thicker materials that boxers had been using. Constructed of thinner material, the acrylic guard provided athletes the ability to speak normally with the mouthpiece in place.

By January 1948, Lilyquist received national recognition for his dental guard when he described the procedure for making and fitting one in the Journal of the American Dental Association. By 1960, the American Dental Association recommended the use of latex dental guards for all contact sports and by 1962, all high school football players in the United States were required to wear the devices, followed by all US college students in 1973. Today, the dental guard has become synonymous with athletic safety as well as dental hygiene, protection, and restoration.

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Last updated on June 19, 2017 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.

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