If you were to ask someone if they believe they need a nightguard, they will probably say no. Many do not realize they are suffering from bruxism either during the night or throughout the day. Bruxism is a condition in which you grind, gnash, or clench your teeth while you’re awake or asleep.
Teeth grinding results in the wear and tear of your enamel, also known also as the protective outside layer of your teeth. This wear can also result in chipped or cracked teeth and worsen jaw or bite problems. The cause of your bruxism may not be clear but stress or a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea could be possible causes. An abnormal bite, missing, or crooked teeth, can be additional causes of bruxism.
A night guard can prevent the consequences of bruxism such as:
- Jaw Pain
- Facial Soreness
- Fatigue from lack of sleep
- Wear or breakage of teeth
Bruxism can also exacerbate existing diseases, stressing your gums, and often causing receding gums and tooth sensitivity. The force from clenching and grinding your teeth can cause damage to the tooth’s supporting tissues, resulting in the deepening of periodontal pockets and loosening of teeth.
Types of Nightguards
Over-the-Counter Night Guard
Store bought night guards are “one size fits all” when it comes to your arch. Meaning, it is less likely to fit comfortably in your mouth and cause damage compared to a night guard that is customized to your unique bite.
Can buy from online retailers or drugstores without a prescription.
The most common type of over-the-counter night guard is the “boil and bite” option. This entails placing the mouth guard in boiling water, making the plastic soft and pliable. The wearer will then gently bite down on it, which will form the plastic to their teeth, creating a mold.
A properly fitted night guard will ensure that no damage is caused to your gums while wearing the piece. Your dentist will take an imprint of your teeth so that he or she can customize the guard to your unique bite and arch, resulting in a more comfortable fit. Night guards obtained from dentists are often of higher quality leading them to last longer than an over-the-counter night guard.
Soft Night Guards
As you can probably guess, a soft night guard is made up of a rubbery, soft and flexible material. Typically used for people who lightly to moderately grind or clench their teeth. Although the soft night guard supplies the wearer with more comfort than the hard or hybrid night guards, it is not as durable. As our jaws naturally want to chew soft things, soft night guards may exacerbate symptoms of bruxism.
Hard Night Guards
Made from a firmer plastic or acrylic, making it extremely rigid but durable. Used for very severe cases of grinding. Hard night guards allow your lower teeth to freely slide around when the lower jaw is in motion.
Hybrid Night Guards
Used for moderate to severe grinding. Ideal for those who want to experience increased comfort and do not have severe bruxism but want to still have that extra durability the hard night guard provides. A hybrid night guard is crafted in two layers, with a soft interior layer and a harder exterior.
Individuals suffering from Bruxism have a higher rate of TMJ internal derangement and effusion. Bruxism and clenching habits may also result in V-shaped retraction of the gums. Night guards can save not only the functionality of your teeth but the aesthetics as well. If needed, night guards can vastly improve your quality of life.