Grinding your teeth, also known as bruxism, can be a real pain (literally!). But fear not, there’s a simple solution: night guards! 

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of night guards, answering the question “What is a night guard?” and exploring the many reasons why wearing one could be a game-changer for your sleep and overall health.

Note: Enhance Dental Centre can be your partner in achieving a better night’s sleep. If you suspect you grind your teeth or suffer from jaw pain, headaches, or sleep apnea, they offer a comprehensive consultation to assess your needs and determine if a custom-made night guard is the right solution for you. Schedule an appointment to consult with a team of dental professionals about night guards for night-time grinding.

A woman wearing a night guard

What is a Night Guard?

A night guard, also known as a dental splint or occlusal guard, is a mouthpiece typically worn at night while you sleep. It’s crafted from smooth, durable plastic and custom-fitted to your mouth by a dentist.

Night guards act as a protective barrier between your upper and lower teeth, preventing them from grinding or clenching together. This can significantly reduce wear and tear on your teeth, as well as alleviate many other dental and health issues associated with bruxism.

A night guard is a mouth guard used for patients with bruxism, a condition characterized by clenching and grinding of teeth.

Bruxism tendencies often happen during the early stages of sleep, which can cause excessive damage to the teeth as well as sleep disruption.

Main Reasons to Wear a Night guard

Night guards offer a range of benefits for people experiencing teeth grinding, jaw pain, and other sleep-related issues. Here are the main reasons to wear a night guard:

Protect Teeth from Grinding and Clenching

This is the most common reason for wearing a night guard. If you grind or clench your teeth at night (bruxism), a night guard acts as a protective barrier, preventing your upper and lower teeth from grinding or clenching together. 

This can significantly reduce wear and tear on your teeth, as well as prevent cracks, fractures, and excessive tooth sensitivity.

Alleviate Jaw Pain and TMJ Dysfunction

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is responsible for connecting the jaw and skull, affecting chewing muscles. Sleeping clench can cause misalignment, leading to TMJ dysfunction, causing chewing difficulties, pain, and headaches. 

Damage to the articular disk can cause disk displacement, causing jaw locking and potentially requiring emergency room visits. Wearing a night guard can help prevent the development of this disorder by easing muscle tension.

Night guards can help to relax the jaw muscles and alleviate pain associated with TMJ dysfunction, including headaches, facial pain, and difficulty chewing. 

Prevent Chronic Headaches

Chronic neck aches and headaches are common signs of bruxism, a condition characterized by tensed muscles in the neck, shoulders, mouth, and jaw. To diagnose bruxism, it’s important to check if teeth grinding and clenching cause headaches. 

Checking teeth surface flattening or recession of gum and bone can help identify grinding during sleep. A custom-made night guard can help eliminate headaches by eliminating the need to tense up muscles.

Protect Orthodontic Appliances

If you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces or retainers, a night guard can help protect your appliances from damage caused by night-time clenching or grinding.

What Are the Types of Night Guards?

What Are the Types of Night Guards?

When selecting a night guard, consider factors like your symptom severity and the material used. Consult your dentist to determine the best option, as it’s best to consult with them to ensure the best fit for your needs. Night guard types include:

Custom-made night guards

These are the most effective type of night guard created by a dentist specifically for your mouth. This is done by taking an impression of your teeth, which is then used to create a perfectly fitting night guard. 

Custom-made night guards are typically more comfortable and durable than over-the-counter night guards, and they are less likely to interfere with your speech or sleep. 

Over-the-counter night guards

These are readily available at drugstores and online retailers. They are not custom-made and come in a one-size-fits-all design. 

Over-the-counter night guards may not be as comfortable or effective as custom-made night guards, and they may be more bulky and interfere with your sleep or speech. However, they are a more affordable option. 

In terms of material, night guards can also be classified into three main types:

Soft Night Guards

These are made from a soft, flexible material, such as ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA). They are comfortable to wear but may not be as durable as hard night guards. Soft night guards are typically best suited for people with mild-to-moderate teeth grinding. 

Hard Night Guards

These are made from a harder, more durable material, such as acrylic. They are more effective at protecting teeth from wear and tear, but they may not be as comfortable to wear as soft night guards. Hard night guards are typically recommended for people with severe teeth grinding. 

Dual-laminated Night Guards

These combine the benefits of soft and hard night guards. They have a gentle

inner layer for comfort and a hard outer layer for durability. Dual-laminated night guards are a good option for people who need a night guard that is both comfortable and effective. 

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Night Guard?

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Night Guard?

Advantages of Using a Night Guard for Night Time Grinding:

Protects Teeth

The primary benefit is preventing wear and tear, cracks, and fractures caused by teeth grinding (bruxism).

Reduces Jaw Pain and TMJ Issues

Night guards help relax jaw muscles, alleviating pain associated with temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ).

Improves Sleep Quality

By reducing pain, headaches, and grinding noises, night guards can promote better sleep.

Minimizes Headaches

Morning headaches often stem from teeth grinding. Night guards can significantly reduce or eliminate them.

Protects Orthodontic Appliances

Night guards safeguard braces, and retainers from damage caused by nighttime clenching.

Reduces Snoring and Mild Sleep Apnea

In some cases, night guards can improve breathing by keeping the airway open, benefiting those who snore or have mild sleep apnea.

Disadvantages of Using a Night Guard for Night Time Grinding:

Initial Discomfort

Getting used to a night guard can take time. Some people may experience increased saliva production or a gagging feeling initially.

Cost

They can come at a moderate to high cost.

Bulkiness

Over-the-counter night guards might feel bulky and disrupt sleep or speech.

Cleaning

Night guards require regular cleaning to maintain hygiene.

Not a Cure

Night guards are a preventative measure, not a cure for bruxism. Underlying causes like stress or anxiety may still need to be addressed.

How Much Does a Night Guard Cost?

The cost of a night guard depends on the type, and materials used. According to the 2022 Ontario Dental Association Suggested Fee Guide, a standard mouthguard could cost $346, including an additional laboratory fee. Eligibility for this treatment depends on insurance details.

Conclusion

Night guards may seem like a small piece of plastic, but they can have a significant impact on your oral health and overall well-being. 

Night guards provide several benefits, including protecting your teeth from grinding, relieving jaw pain, and potentially improving sleep quality.

If you suspect you grind your teeth or experience any of the issues mentioned in this post, talk to your dentist about whether a night guard is right for you. 

FAQs:

1- Does Night guard help with grinding?

Yes, night guards are absolutely designed to help with teeth grinding (bruxism). In fact, it’s one of the primary reasons people wear them. 

2- What type of night guard is best for grinding?

Soft acrylic mouth guards are suitable for moderate teeth grinding, while hard acrylic guards are prescribed for severe bruxism or TMJ disorder. Hard guards, sometimes attached to metal clasps, provide limited space for grinding.

3- Are teeth-grinding guards safe?

Yes, teeth-grinding guards (night guards) are generally safe for most people when used correctly.