A night guard is a piece of hard or soft plastic that resembles a retainer. You can wear it on the bottom or top teeth, covering the biting surfaces. As each patient’s teeth are unique, a nightguard is manufactured specifically for them by shaping them to fit your teeth without being uncomfortable or overly thick. Since it goes by several names, you may hear dentists refer to it by any of these: mouthguard, occlusal guard, bite splint, dental guard, or nocturnal bite plate.
What Is the Purpose of Using Night Guards?
If you have bruxism, a condition where you grind your teeth at night, you should use a night guard. Bruxism causes you to clench or grind your teeth, usually when sleeping. However, it can also happen unintentionally to some people while they are awake and stressed out. The primary purpose of a nightguard is to separate the upper and lower teeth, so they are not damaged by grinding or clenching.
Symptoms of Bruxism
You may experience the following bruxism symptoms:
- Jaw, neck, and face pain and soreness
- Teeth grinding
- Tooth pain or sensitivity
- Worn tooth enamel
- Tiredness from lack of sleep
- Waking up with headaches
How Is a Night Guard Constructed?
The materials used to create nightguards can be either soft, dual laminate, or hard acrylic. The ideal nightguard is comfortable and fits snugly around your teeth. Regardless of style, suitable mouthguards should not limit breathing or cause discomfort. In addition, they should be reusable without compromising on protection and simple to clean.
Advantages of Dental Night Guards for Bruxism
- It Protects the Teeth from Damage: A dental nightguard shields the teeth from harm by minimizing the consequences of clenching while sleeping. This cushion barrier helps avoid chipped teeth and worn-down teeth, two of the more frequent issues brought on by teeth clenching.
- It Lessens Headaches and Jaw Pain: Many people who clench their teeth will experience varying degrees of jaw pain because clenching one’s teeth at night puts much stress on the jaw. They may eventually develop chronic headaches and migraines due to jaw pain, making it challenging to carry out their daily activities.
- It Supports a Restful Night’s Sleep: Using a nightguard will help those who clench their teeth at night fall asleep more peacefully because many clenchers wake up when they are doing it. This is because nightguards, designed to keep people’s muscles relaxed while they sleep, bear the weight of their users’ clenching.
Types of Night Guards
There are three primary varieties of mouthguards:
- Boil and bite
This custom-fitted mouthguard offers the highest level of comfort and protection due to the use of specific materials and the additional time and effort required.
There usually are three variants of night guards available in our professional lab:
- Soft nightguards.
- Hard nightguards
- Dual laminate or hybrid nightguards
How Do You Clean a Night Guard?
You can clean the nightguard with a toothbrush and toothpaste, followed by a warm water rinse. To eliminate unwanted organisms, your dentist could also provide an antibacterial solution to soak your nightguard. When not in use, you should keep your nightguard in its protective case, which you should also clean. Nevertheless, you should ensure the case has ventilation to dry out and avoid bacterial regrowth.
Differences Between Mouth and Night Guards
Patients frequently confuse nightguards with mouthguards. Each dental appliance guards your teeth, but they do it in distinct ways. For example, a sports guard or mouth guard will protect your mouth when participating in contact sports. Using a nightguard prevents you from clenching or grinding your teeth at night.
How Long Does a Night Guard Last?
The amount of use a nightguard receives will determine how long it lasts, just like with most other items. For example, the nightguard might only last a year or two for those who grind their teeth extremely hard. On the other hand, a dental nightguard can last up to ten years in some patients who do not use as much force on their teeth. When people who use their nightguard frequently observe how much force is applied to it in such a short amount of time, they are delighted to replace the night guard regularly to protect their teeth from that force.
Get Help from a Professional
It might be challenging to determine whether headaches, tooth sensitivity, or TMJ are brought on by teeth grinding and clenching during sleep until you see a doctor who can diagnose bruxism. Furthermore, dentists recommend a custom-made nightguard, which is only possible to obtain with the assistance of an oral hygiene specialist.