Are you waking up with a sore jaw or a headache? Does your partner wake you up complaining that you’ve been grinding your teeth? Do your chompers hurt after a night of rest? If so, you’re probably experiencing bruxism – a condition that’s not only painful but can be damaging to teeth. Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is prevalent. In fact, about 10-15% of American adults do it, according to the American Dental Association (ADA).
While Bruxism is common, it’s also easy to treat. In fact, there are dozens of ways to address and minimize the impacts of bruxism. One of the most common, though, is adding a night guard to your nighttime routine.
Here’s what you need to know about this option, and whether it’s a good fit for you.
What is a Night Guard?
A night guard is exactly what it sounds like: a guard you put into your mouth at night to protect your teeth from nocturnal grinding.
According to the American Sleep Association (ASA):
“Most cases of bruxism can easily be treated by wearing a night guard while you sleep. Night guards are also known as dental guards, mouth guards, nocturnal bite plates, or bite splints. They work by putting a barrier between your teeth. When you clench your jaw, the night guard helps to lighten the tension and give cushion to the muscles in the jaw. This cushioning not only helps to prevent face and jaw pain but also protects the enamel of your teeth. They look very similar to snoring remedies.”
If you want to acquire a night guard, you can either buy one over-the-counter or speak directly to your dentist. Generally, the latter option is the smarter one. Since everyone’s mouth is different, mouth guards are most effective when they’re fitted specifically to your dental arch and teeth. While your dentist can afford this level of customization, it’ll be impossible coming from an OTC guard.
Different Types of Night Guards
If you’re interested in a night guard, you should also know that there are a few different kinds of night guards. These include the following:
Soft Night Guards
Soft night guards are the most common type of guard, and, according to many, the most effective. They’re generally used for people who grind their teeth occasionally or mildly and are not a good fit for severe teeth grinders.
- These night guards are the most comfortable, and fit into the mouth naturally
- They’re the easiest to get used to
- They’re also the most affordable
- They do not have the same lifespan of laminate guards and are not a long-term solution for bruxism
Dual Laminate Night Guards
Dual laminate night guards are well-suited to severe nighttime grinders. These quads feature a soft material on the inside and hard plastic on the outside of the guard.
- They are durable enough to stand up to heavy grinding
- They last longer than soft guards
- They offer more extended warranties than soft guards
- They are thicker than other types of guards and can be harder to get used to
Hard Night Guards
These night guards are made from an acrylic material. As the name would suggest, they are extremely rigid, but also very durable. These are only suited to the most severe nighttime grinders.
- These guards prevent teeth from shifting
- They offer the longest warranty of any guard
- They are much thicker than any other type of guard, and the most difficult to get used to using
- They must be ordered from a dentist, as dental impressions are required
- They are the most expensive type of night guard
Finding Your Perfect Fit Mouth Guard
Again, there are several ways to choose a mouth guard, and the option you pursue depends, in large part, on your preferences, budget, and needs. Here are a few of the most popular options:
- “One-size-fits-all.” When you go to a pharmacy to buy a mouthguard, they’re designed to be “One size fits all.” These mouth guards are not custom-fitted, but they will work for mild to occasional teeth-grinders and are the most affordable option.
- “Boil and bite.” This type of mouthguard is slightly more customized, but not by much. To fit it, you toss it in some boiling water, pull it out, let it cool slightly, and bite into it to leave the impression of your teeth and dental arch. This is a common approach. These guards are affordable and popular.
- Direct-to-consumer guards. Today, lots of companies manufacture night guards and send them directly to consumers. These companies send an impression to customers first, the customers complete it and send it back, and then the company builds the custom night guard.
- Custom guards. If you need a custom or a very durable solution, you’ll go right to your dentist for your night guard needs. The dentist will fit you for a guard and help you ensure you’ve got the solution you need.
Other Treatments for Bruxism
Want to try a few other things before you go straight to a night guard? Here are a few different treatment options for Bruxism:
- Having your teeth straightened. If your teeth are out of alignment, it makes teeth grinding worse. Fortunately, you can resolve much of this with simple corrective measures like braces or aligners.
- Stress prevention. One of the leading causes of teeth grinding is anxiety or nervousness, so resolving these issues can go a long way toward alleviating the problem. Talk to your doctor about stress prevention methods, and look into counseling if you feel you need additional support.
- Diet and medication changes. In some cases, resolving bruxism requires treating the condition from within. Talk to your dentist and doctor about changing your diet or adding medication if your bruxism is severe or persistent.
If you’ve been suffering from bruxism – there’s still hope. You can find relief – it’s just a matter of deciding which treatment is right for you. Night guards are an excellent choice, so be sure to talk to your dentist about this option next time you visit.
Ready to learn more? Contact our team today.