Most people that are grinding teeth are doing so while sleeping, unconsciously. Habitual teeth grinding, also called bruxism, can cause serious problems and should be treated. If you often wake up with a sore jaw, headache or tooth pain, it is time to visit your dentist to check if you are suffering from bruxism.
When wearing a mouth guard is inevitable, it is important to understand that not all night guards are made the same. The shape, adjustability and type of material used for your night guard are very specific and depend on the intended use. Discuss all existing options and create your own treatment plan with our dentists.
How Do I Know if I Have Bruxism?
You may not realize that you have a grinding or clenching problem until someone comments that you are making an annoying grinding sound at night. You can also discover that your teeth are worn during a routine dental checkup. Here is the list of possible alert signs indicating that you may need wearing a night guard:
- Jaw and facial muscles’ pain
- Ear pain
- Shoulder and neck stiffness pain
- Bad sleep
- Excess teeth mobility
- Inflamed gums
In the worst-case scenario, permanent grinding habit can lead to development of temporomandibular joint disorder (called TMJ), tooth wear or breakage, damage of surrounding bone and gum tissue.
How Does Dental Night Guard Work?
Regardless the type of night guard, its main task is to prevent your teeth surfaces from grinding together. A standard night guard is inserted in the mouth and covers the upper teeth. In some cases – if you wear braces or another fixed prosthetic device on your lower jaw – your dentist can prescribe to use a night guard for the lower teeth as well. A good-quality dental guard should make you sleep comfortable, resist tears and be easy to clean.
Its important to have hard night guard made and fabricated by your dentist as over the counter one are flexible and when you grind gives you that gummy soft feel and would make you want to grind even more.
Teeth grinding may occur in both children and adults. When buying a dental night guard, it is essential to choose a guard that will best protect your teeth.
Ideal night guards should have the following characteristics:
- Ensure proper fit
- Be durable and hard not flexible
- Don’t have any strange flavors
- Be comfortable to wear for extended periods of time
- Don’t interfere with normal speaking ability and tongue movement
Types of Night Guards Available
When choosing your night guard, there are different factors to consider from material and hardness to price and intended use. The decision depends on the type of problem to be corrected.
- Custom-fit and Over the Counter Night Guards
Custom-fit night guard is the best type of guards available in the market. It provides a tight fit and maximum comfort. It is designed by taking impressions of your teeth to meet your particular requirements. The material of a custom-fit night guard can also be chosen based on your need: soft rubber for light grinding problem, semi-hard material for moderate grinding and hard acrylic guard for severe grinding. Over-the-counter night guards are cheaper, but they are not able to provide such a precise fit, as custom guards do. This type of guard is recommended as a temporary solution of your dental problem.
- Complete and Partial Night Guards
Complete night guards cover the entire set of upper and lower teeth, from the occlusal part to the gum line. These guards don’t improve your bite: they only protect your teeth from grinding. Complete night guards is the most conservative and frequent choice. Partial night guards cover only part of the teeth that cause a problem. This type of guard reduces teeth grinding or clenching of the jaws as well as can modify your bite slightly. If the night guard has a full tooth coverage, it can be made of hard, soft or semi-hard acrylic material. Mouth guards of partial coverage are usually made of hard acrylic.
- Soft and Hard Night Guards
If you have a severe bruxism, you will definitely need a hard, strong dental guard. Hard night guards are usually 2-3 mm thick, made of rigid acrylic. In spite of being the most expensive option, if you are suffering from bruxism, these heavy guards are the best way to protect your tooth enamel. In case of less intense grinding problem, hybrid guards will be a good choice. They have a soft inside layer, while the outside part is still made of durable acrylic material. Soft night guards are 2 mm thick and are used in case of light bruxism and clenching.
If your grinding problem is not limited to night time only, there are also available daytime guards. They are usually thin, light-weighted and less visible. In spite of ultra thinness, they are quite durable and flexible. Daily guards will help protect your teeth from grinding while allowing you to speak naturally.
- Single Wall and Dual Wall Night Guards
Dual wall night guards provide better fit, but usually cost higher than single night guards. A single mouth guard takes an impression of the teeth and is a suitable option for temporary use, for instance, if you are a sportsman. Dual wall night guards are perfect to wear during the entire night; they work almost similarly to custom-fit guards. They are more effective device to prevent you from teeth grinding and chipping.
Solving Your Teeth Grinding Problem
Just wearing a night guard won’t make you stop grinding. Night guards can only prevent you from potential teeth damage. To achieve better results, try to follow these precautions:
- Avoid drinking alcohol: teeth grinding becomes more intense after alcohol consumption
- Stop chewing: don’t chew things that are not food, like pencils, pens, gums, etc.
- Drink more water and get more sleep
- Do special jaw relax exercises
- Massaging jaw muscles, neck and face to lessen tension
- Reduce stressful situations, consider performing relax practices and therapy