I recently had occasion to visit prosthodontist Dr.George Carr to get some idea of costs on some tooth restoration I needed done. After we discussed the various possibilities, Dr. Carr asked me if I was aware that I was grinding my teeth. A little, I said. Then the amiable dentist/prosthodontist asked me if I wanted to take a look. He had an instrument which looked like a flexible micro-camera and projected an image onto a TV screen.
Magnified, lighted, and visible on the big screen, I was horrified at the pitting and abrasions I saw. My teeth surfaces and crevasses looked like a surreal landscape as the camera travelled into the nooks, crannies, and surfaces of my teeth. The damage was mainly in the areas of the “bite,” where top teeth touched upon bottom teeth. It appeared that a file had been dragged across the top edge of my teeth. The condition is known medically as “bruxism.”
Many dentists will make a customized device, a mouth-guard that fits perfectly or nearly so. That’s what I purchased at first, but it soon became apparent to me that my night-time grinding was so severe that my custom mouthpiece was turned into a plastic-rubber semblance of shredded wheat. I kept that mouth-guard as long as I could, until one day our German Shepherd, always curious about the device, snatched it from the bedside table and refitted it to her own customized imaginings.
I wasn’t going to pay hundreds of bucks for another custom job. I bought an over the counter version next. I don’t remember the brand, but it was awful. Another brand which was supposed to be “as comfortable as a customized guard” had these little stringy things which “adjusted” but weren’t strong enough to restrain a guppy. One night was all it took.
So I went looking across the internet and came up with the “Dental Hygiene Preferred Complete Day/Night Mouth Guard Kit, Colors May Vary.” The current price is $21.95 from Amazon where I bought my first one for slightly less. Insofar as that goes, the same product is sold for $19.95 by the Dental Hygiene Preferred Company at mydentalhygiene.com. The name of the product is slightly different but it’s the same product. After you’ve got the plastic storage case and have determined whether you prefer the larger or smaller mouth guard size, you can get refills sent direct from the Dental Hygiene Preferred web site for $6.95 and conveniently pay for them with a PayPal account, something I just did five minutes ago.
The “Dental Hygiene Preferred” is actually two mouth-guards, and comes in a neat aerated plastic box case for storage. One of the mouthpieces in the “kit” is designed for smaller mouths; the other is for larger mouths. While some mouth-guard makers are proud of not requiring the “boil and bite,” I prefer it, because these make the best fit if done correctly. A loose mouth-guard is an irritant, and your mouth will have a sub-conscious urge to get rid of it. It will likely end up on your pillow or the one next to you, to the chagrin of your “serious other.”
Both of the “Dental Hygiene Preferred” mouth guards fit me after I boiled and bit. I tried the smaller one first and thought I liked it better until it wore out. Then I tried the larger one and now like it better. Athletics who are accustomed to wearing mouth guards for football, boxing, or other sports will have no trouble with the larger one. The difference is in rigidity. Impact sports require more structural rigidity to protect the teeth. Softer ones are better for “grinders.”
The plastic-rubber compound of the Dental Hygiene Preferred molds very well and easily with hot (but not necessarily boiling) water. You dip it quickly into cold water, insert it, and then suck your cheeks in as the guard molds around your teeth.
There are many people with a hyper-sensitive gag reflex who may not be able to wear any style of mouth guard, and that is unfortunate. Many people sustain expensive damage to their teeth from “grinding,” even to the point of cracking teeth, especially after root canals.
The “Dental Hygiene Preferred” works very well for me and for most of the 115 customers who reviewed it on the Amazon site. In fact, I have become so accustomed to wearing the Dental Hygiene mouth guard that I actually find it comforting to wear. As for the grinding tensions the mouth guard is designed to remediate, those are apparent in the impressions left into the plastic-rubber guard.
Editor’s Note: I have no financial or other interest in the Dental Hygiene Preferred mouth guard, except as a consumer.