Nightguard 1

Nightguard

There are some habits we can pick up and maintain that cause us excessive discomfort and problems as a result, and tooth clenching and tooth grinding is a perfect example of this. Individuals who grind their teeth at night often suffer from extensive ill effects as a result, including tooth pain, worn teeth, headaches, sore jaws and more. Tooth grinding at night, which is also known as bruxism, is often the result of an individual’s inability to effectively deal with stress or anxiety, and it is something over which they often don’t have control. In fact, the American Dental Association has reported that approximately ten to fifteen percent of all adults suffer from some form of mild, moderate or severe bruxism. Fortunately, there is a way to help protect the teeth and eliminate the discomfort that results from night time tooth grinding: through the use of a night guard.

The main purpose of a night guard is, of course, to create a barrier between the upper and lower teeth so as to cushion them and protect them from damage. There are three main types of night guards that can be used for this purpose:

  1. Stock night guards. Stock night guards are often available at most drug stores. While they are usually inexpensive they are also often quite uncomfortable in the mouth, as they are made with the intention of being able to “fit” all mouths. This means they are usually too large, and slide around in the individual’s mouth, making them feel like they may block their airway uncomfortably while they try to rest.
  2. Boil-and-bite night guards. Like stock night guards, boil-and-bite night guards are often available at most drug stores. They may be a shade more costly than stock night guards, but they may also be slightly more comfortable in the mouth. In order to prepare the night guard for use, the individual will boil the night guard to make it as soft and pliable as possible, and then when it cools enough they will bite down on it in order to impress their teeth into the material.
  3. Custom night guards. Often considered the best option, custom night guards are available only through a dental professional. They are made based upon a dental impression that your dentist will make of your teeth, and which is sent to a dental laboratory. They are the most costly option, but they are also usually the most comfortable and therefore the best option.

It is understood that while night guards can be enormously helpful to the individual, they can also be very uncomfortable. Dentists seek to resolve this problem by ensuring that custom night guards are not excessive, but serve the exact purpose for which they are designed. To that end, custom night guards can further be broken down into three main categories:

  • Soft night guards. These are often used when the individual experiences only mild bruxism, as they help to protect the teeth from mild amounts of clenching or grinding.
  • Dual laminate night guards. When the individual experiences moderate bruxism, a dual laminate night guard will hold up better and for longer. This night guard is made to be harder on the outside while remaining soft on the inside.
  • Acrylic night guards. An individual who suffers from severe and regular bruxism needs a very durable night guard, which is where the clear, hard plastic of acrylic night guards come in handy. This night guard can last for up to five years if well cared for.

Night guards must be properly cared for in order to last well and long, and this includes thoroughly brushing them with toothbrush and toothpaste after use, as well as storing them in a protective container while not in use. They should also be regularly inspected for wear and damage, and repaired or replaced by a dental professional when necessary.

Benefits of Night Guard Use

Night guards not only help to protect against the damaging effects of bruxism, they also work to relax the individual’s jaws, which can reduce muscle tension and thereby prevent jaw pain and headaches. Properly fitted night guards can also help ensure that the jaw muscles are correctly aligned so that teeth won’t be locked together, and they may even be able to help strengthen the teeth. In some cases, patients who have worn their custom night guard on a nightly basis have actually stopped grinding their teeth altogether after some time, which allows them to experience better quality sleep.




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