Sports Mouthguards vs. Nightguards

Are all mouthguards built the same? Can you use the same mouthguard for sports and TMD?

While the term mouthguards may refer to a nightguard, sports mouthguards, and nightguards are not the same.

Here we will clarify the similarities and differences between common custom mouthguard treatments in our Cadillac, MI, dental office.

Sports Mouthguards vs. Nightguards

Custom Mouthguard in Cadillac, MI

Our dental office uses digital scans to create custom-made mouthguards for patients. We ensure that the mouthguards fit properly so patients can protect their smiles.

Both sports mouthguards and nightguards can protect teeth from damage. However, they are used in different contexts. Learn about sports mouthguards and nightguards below:

Sports Mouthguards

A sports mouthguard is a rubber-like plastic material covering the front of the teeth. They only over the upper teeth and can be custom-made for patients who wear braces.

Mouthguards are worn during contact sports or sports where there is any contact between players, like hockey, soccer, and lacrosse. It’s important for players to wear mouthguards, regardless of age, to protect their smiles during sports. 

Professionally-made mouthguards not only fit correctly but can also add additional benefit to the wearer. A custom mouthguard will stay in the mouth during a game, so patients don’t have to clench their teeth or concentrate to keep the mouthguard in place.

Sports mouthguards prevent direct hits to the teeth and soft tissues of the mouth or broken braces brackets and wires. Even if patients are hit in the mouth while wearing a mouthguard, they can sustain minimal injuries.

Wearing a custom sports mouthguard is often required for many contact sports because of the level of protection they offer to the wearer. 


We recommend nightguards for patients with TMJ disorders. These bite disorders occur when there is pressure or injury to the joints that aid in speaking and chewing, the temporomandibular joints.

Patients with temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) can experience problems like teeth clenching and grinding or bruxism.

Bruxism occurs unconsciously during the day or at night. Clenching and grinding the teeth continually places more pressure on the TMJ and can wear down the natural tooth enamel.

Patients who experience bruxism can also experience jaw pain and headaches. Wearing a nightguard can prevent these symptoms and preserve the smile. 

Nightguards are made of different materials and are shaped differently than sports mouthguards. A nightguard can cover the upper or lower tooth arch with a hard acrylic.

Before we create the nightguard, we examine the bite, measuring the pressure of the bite in different areas of the mouth to determine where there are areas of wear. 

Do you need a new custom mouthguard? Whether you have TMD or require a mouthguard for sports, we can help. Call Brilliant Smiles Family Dentsitry today at 231-389-6388. You may also schedule a dental consultation with us online.