Bite guards are often used to treat patients with TMJ issues or enamel loss from clenching and grinding their teeth at night. We’ve used them in our office for years, and have found them to be a great first line of defense in protecting the teeth and jaw from further damage. However, patients are often shocked by the cost of this treatment.
Bite guards can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,500, which often prevents patients from moving forward with this treatment. Instead, some will purchase an over-the-counter bite guard for a fraction of the cost, which ends up making their condition worse, not better. While others will avoid treatment all together.
So, why are bite guards so expensive?
- You’re paying for the expertise of the dentist
In order to be effective, a bite guard (often called a splint) must fit over your teeth and work in harmony with the opposing arch. While over-the-counter bite guards will separate your teeth, they do not take into consideration the articulation of the arch. This can cause a worsening of symptoms, muscle soreness and headaches. What you’re paying for is the customization of the bite guard, which is what makes it effective.
- Fittings can take several appointments
For a patient with severe symptoms, it can take anywhere from three to five appointments to properly adjust the bite guard. This is the biggest reason for the variation in fee. The more severe the case, the higher the cost. However, with each appointment the dentist should be able to adjust the splint until balance is achieved and the patient’s symptoms subside.
While bite guards are expensive, it’s important to note that it is the least expensive option for treating TMJ issues or enamel loss from clenching and grinding. More importantly, it’s the least invasive option. That’s why I always recommend this treatment first. Should the bite guard not treat the symptoms, we can then explore other options or refer you to a specialist to rule out other causes.
If your dentist has recommended that you get a bite guard and you’re hesitant because of the cost, I would strongly encourage you to reconsider. Bite guards can provide a great value to the patient when worn every night and can prevent irreversible damage to the teeth and jaw that will require extensive dental work to correct.
If you are experiencing jaw pain or have noticed wear on your enamel from grinding your teeth, call our office to set up a consultation.