Did you know that between 30 and 40 million Americans grind their teeth at night? When someone grinds their teeth, the amount of pressure they exert can be as much as 200 pounds.
Additionally, teeth grinding can lead to extensive damage that later requires dentures, implants, or root canals. If you’re someone who grinds their teeth, you might be stressed about the damage you might be causing to your teeth. Fortunately, with a night guard, you can prevent some of the problems that occur when you grind your teeth at night.
What Is a Night Guard?
A night guard is a dental appliance made of plastic that fits over your top or bottom set of teeth. When your teeth are grinding and clenching, a large amount of the force that would ordinarily impact your teeth will impact the night guard instead. The night guard, as a result, will help to protect your teeth from both the short- and long-term effects of teeth grinding. When you get a night guard, it will be a custom fit. To get this fit, the person making the night guard for you will first create a mold of your teeth. There are many names night guards have. People will also refer to a night guard as a mouth guard, nocturnal bite plate, dental guard, bite splint, or occlusal guard.
Why Is a Night Guard Needed?
There are different reasons a night guard for teeth is needed. First, as a guard for grinding and clenching, it protects your upper teeth and other teeth from the long-term problems you could end up with as someone who grinds their teeth. These potential issues include enamel loss, tooth decay, teeth infections, the fracturing of weak teeth, the wearing of fillings, and tooth loss. You can also avoid having to pay for costly dental procedures. These include bridges or implants, root canals, and crowns. Another thing a dental night guard protects you from is temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJ. This disorder can cause headaches, pain in and around your ear, and difficulty in chewing. A mouth night guard can help you prevent these symptoms associated with TMJ. Note that, sometimes, issues you think are caused by teeth grinding can be caused by sleep apnea. For this reason, it can be smart to discuss this potential health issue with a health professional.
How Long Does It Take a Night Guard to Work?
When you first start using a night guard, you might feel that it’s uncomfortable to wear it on your top or bottom teeth. However, be patient. By waiting two to three weeks, you can start getting used to having it in your mouth so you’ll be able to start sleeping easily when you use it.
What Is the Best Night Guard for Me?
There are different types of night guards available. One of these, the most common one, is the soft night guard that occasional or mild teeth grinders use. The pros of this type are that it has the most comfortable fit, it’s easiest to get used to/adapt to, and usually costs less. The cons of this type are that people will sometimes unintentionally chew or clench onto the soft material.
Soft night guards also aren’t as durable as other guards, so they have a shorter lifespan. This type of night guard isn’t a long-term solution, and warranties usually last only six months or less.
Dual Laminate Night Guard
If you’re a moderately severe teeth grinder, a dual laminate night guard might be right for you. This type is hard on the outside and soft on the inside. Pros include that they’re longer-lasting, they can handle heavy grinding and clenching, and they come with longer warranties, usually, than soft ones. Cons include that their thickness is a bit greater than other guards’ and that adjustment to them seems more difficult.
Hard Night Guard
A hard night guard is acrylic, durable, and highly rigid. This can be used for TMJ or severe grinding cases. The pros of this option are that it prevents teeth from shifting, usually offers the longest warranty, and it’s the most durable. Cons include that it’s thicker than a soft night guard, it’s more uncomfortable than the others, it’s difficult for people to get used to sleeping with it in, and it can cost more than the other options. Additionally, you’ll need to order it directly through your dentist as, for this night guard to fit, an accurate impression is necessary.
Do I Need a Custom Fit Night Guard?
When it custom to getting night guards that are custom size fits, getting one will depend on which brand you choose. One of the fits available is the “one size fits all” fit. With this type, you cover the teeth with a mouth guard that isn’t custom-fitted. This is a good choice if you’re an occasional grinder. It’s also the cheapest option.
Another type is the “boil and bite.” With this night guard, you first put it in boiling hot water. Then you can bite into the night guard to make an impression of your bottom teeth and others.
This is usually an easy process, and this type of night guard seems that it’s the most common type available. You can also order your night guard online. You’ll get an impression and send it, and then the company will send back your night guard to you. Finally, you can get the lab-made night guard. This is when your dentist makes an impression in the lab and then makes the night guard for you based on it.
Are Night Guards Expensive?
The price of your night guard will depend on the type and brand you buy. If you buy the one-size-fits-all night guard, the price will be $20. On the other hand, a custom-made night guard can cost you $80. While this can seem pricey, it’s far cheaper than the restorative dentistry procedure(s) you might have to end up going for if you experience the problems caused by clenches or grinds.
How Often Do You Need to Replace a Night Guard?
How often you have to replace your night guard depends on different factors. This said, a night guard’s average lifespan is five years. However, if it undergoes a lot of wear, it might need to be replaced in only one year. To prevent your night guard from this wear, there are several strategies you can use. First, after you wear it, rinse it immediately. Do this with warm water. This way, you can loosen any plaque and remove debris. Second, you should brush your night guard. Do a light brush with your toothbrush. If you prefer to use one that isn’t the one you use on your front teeth and other teeth, you can use a separate one to do this. Note that toothpaste can have an abrasive effect. For this reason, it’s best to brush your night guard using Castile or dish soap. Third, once you’ve washed and brushed your night guard, make sure it dries completely before you store it. This will help to prevent fast bacterial growth. When you put it on a surface to do this, choose one that’s flat and clean. The drying should take between 15 and 30 minutes.
Fourth, ensure that you store the night guard in a case. Even though it may seem like an easier option to store it in your bathroom, the humidity and steam in that room could end up warping the night guard. Instead, store your night guard on your nightstand or in your bedroom. Don’t store it anywhere where there are extreme cold or hot temperatures. Additionally, don’t make it possible for any pets to access it. Fifth, deep clean your night guard once a month (at least). You can do this with a non-abrasive denture cleaner you buy over the counter. You can also use a hydrogen peroxide and vinegar mix.
Want More Information?
Now that you’ve learned what a night guard is and more, you might want more information. For example, maybe you want help figuring out how severe your case of teeth grinding is. In this case, you should look no further than Dr. Stelanos Bredologos and Dr. Maria Mendrinos Family and Cosmetic Dentistry. We’re experts when it comes to dental issues such as grinding, jaw pain, and more. We can also help you get the right night guard for you. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us now.