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Making an Impression for Your Night Guard: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

6 min read
by Dylan Hao |

Since you chose our JS Dental Lab custom kit, we know exactly what you’re getting into, so we’re aware that those first *ahem* impressions can be a wee bit intimidating.

Whether you’re awaiting your kit in the mail or it’s sitting in front of you, we have you covered. Here, we’ll walk through what to expect as you use the tools we’ll send you to make your custom night guard impression.

We have the good, the bad, and the ugly behind this necessary step, and we’re here every step of the way to help you put an end to your teeth-grinding symptoms.

What’s in the Kit?

When your initial impression kit comes in the mail, everything you’ll need to design your impression is in your hands. After unboxing the package, you should have: 

  • An instruction guide
  • Various different-sized plastic impression trays
  • Purple and white mixing putties

The instructions take you step-by-step through the materials in the kit and how to use them. It also features color pictures along with each important part.

Additionally, there will be a handy QR code to scan if you have any questions and need to contact us, as well as a video link (which we’ll get to later). 

The Foundation of the Impression: The Putties

Setting the manual aside, let’s look at the fun stuff — the putties! No, it’s not just for kids.

This material is specially designed to do some hardcore work when mixed together. One is the base, and the other is the catalyst. 

Blended correctly, the two become hard, leaving the impression of your teeth solid enough for us to use as we create your night guard. The putty has a few mintues of working and setting time while it stays soft enough to mold.

Along with the putties themselves are four little plastic tubs, two of each color. You’ll be using one of each of those colors to mix your mold. (There is one extra of each color in case you need a redo.)

How will you know if you need a redo?

You’ll be sending our experts a digital image of your finished impression. They’ll review it for quality control, then give you a simple yes or no.

But before you jump in and start playing with your molds like PlayDoh, check out the video link for a few minutes. Everything else will make more sense after you do!

Watching the Video

We want to make this process as easy as possible, so we’ve included a video hosted by our very own co-founder, Dylan.

It’s about 20 minutes, but we recommend giving it a watch-through before you start doing any of the directions. The video is broken into upper and lower night guards, so you don’t need to view the entire thing unless you have both.

Here is the link in case you still need it.

How to Make a Good Impression

The fit of your night guard is tied to how well your impression matches your actual mouth and teeth shape. So, you want to be sure you make a “good impression.” This requires patience and attention to the following directions: 

1. Select Your Tray

There are three tray sizes for you to choose from. You want the fit to be not too big, not too small, but just right.

It shouldn’t be too tight or loose, but you should have enough wiggle room so that your teeth don’t hit the sides of the tray.

2. Wash Your Hands and Brush Your Teeth

It’s essential to keep any extra debris from touching the putty and becoming part of the dental impression.

3. Roll the Putty

When you’re ready to pull the putty out, check the directions and set a timer so you know exactly how long to roll the base and the catalyst together. The final putty should be purple with no white blotches or spots, but you don’t want to take too long to get to that stage, or the material will already be hardening. 

You’ll have about 40-60 seconds to roll the putty into a hot dog shape and put it into the open slots of the tray.

Spread the top of the putty using your fingers to make it as even as possible (although it doesn’t have to be perfect). This allows your teeth to sink into the surfaces cleanly. 

4. Insert the Tray

close-up of a dentist making an impression mold of a patient's teeth

Now, it’s time to make the impression of your teeth. Carefully holding the tray straight, slide it into your mouth without bumping or jarring it.

Try to keep the tray even, then push up for an impression of your upper teeth or down for the lower teeth. You’ll be tempted to bite to cover your teeth, but for accurate results, you need to push the putty gently into place, covering all the enamel.

Keep the tray in place for three minutes, allowing the putty to set over your teeth. You can stand still or sit down with your head resting in an angled position.

5. Remove the Tray

When the timer goes off, use both hands to gently pull the guard up or down (depending on your impression location) and out. Take a picture of the final results, and text the image to us at JS Dental Lab or use our app to upload the photo.

Tuck the mold into the provided baggie and seal it, then wait until you hear back from our experts for your next steps.

If all was well, you’ll just need to complete the form with your customer info (You’ll find this in the email you received when you placed your order.) and slide the baggie into the return package.

We’ll start working on your custom night guard as soon as we get it!

How to Avoid a Bad Impression

We know you want to get your impression done right the first time, if only to skip the extra work!

As long as you follow the instructions and watch the video, this should be no problem. But there are some common mistakes people make that you can avoid if you know about them in advance.

To make it easier, let’s go over some of the reasons people often have to redo their impressions here:

  • Using the wrong tray: Err on the side of slightly bigger rather than a perfect fit. If your teeth hit the plastic, there’s no room for the putty to cover the enamel.
  • Cracked lips: When you’re stretching your lips, which is likely to happen, it isn’t always comfortable. If you have to stretch too far, you may end up pulling the guard out early. Instead, try adding Vaseline or chapstick to keep the skin from cracking.
  • Bumping the tray: Inserting and removing the tray the correct way is critical to the integrity of the guard. Practice putting it in and taking it out of your mouth a few times using Dylan’s tips until you’re sure you have the motion down pat.
  • Biting down: Remember, you want to push up or down until the putty covers all of your teeth through the back molars. Don’t bite down!

We’ll admit there are a few not-so-fun parts of the process. These are essential regardless of where you go for your impression, whether it’s the dental office or through another dental professional’s mail-order lab. You’ve likely already gone through something similar if you’ve ever had a retainer, mouth guard, teeth whitening kit, or other dental appliance.

Germs are a natural aspect of dealing with your mouth, so hand-washing to avoid spreading them is a must. 

You should also expect to feel slight discomfort when the tray is in your mouth, but using the correct tray and sitting comfortably while you wait can reduce this ugly side.

What Happens After You Make Your Impression?

Smiling young woman holding up her night guard

Before you return the mold to our labs, make sure we’ve approved it first. This eliminates any delays that would occur if we had to contact you and send another kit out.

You’ll receive a notification when we get your kit and start working on your impression. Within a few days, you’ll obtain your new night guard made from our high-quality materials and designed to withstand your level of bruxism. 

Custom guards are made from different materials, depending on the manufacturer. Here at JS Dental Labs, we create all of our night guards using premium dental-use materials sourced from the U.S. and Germany. Everything is latex, Phthalate, and BPA-free.

The first few nights you use your guard, you may notice a little discomfort. However, this should go away over time, and you’ll enjoy the results of having that break from your grinding!

Those sore jaw muscles, ongoing jaw pain, and other symptoms will gradually disappear with the consistent use of your custom-fitted night guard.


Making your own impression with our JS Dental Lab high-quality kit is the first step towards taking control of your dental health.

Unlike when you use an over-the-counter kit, our system walks you through each part of the process. We even allow for mistakes, so you don’t have to worry about making the perfect impression the first time.

Armed with your knowledge, you’re ready to make a good impression for your night guard and move forward on your oral health journey with JS Dental Lab guiding your way!

Still have questions? Contact us here.

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