health

What is a Dental Night Guard?

Do you have a painful jaw or severe headaches that you cannot seem to get rid of? If yes, there is a chance that you could have bruxism. Bruxism is a condition in which you are grinding, clenching, or gnashing your teeth. When you do it while you are awake, it is known as awake bruxism. On the other hand, sleep bruxism applies for those who clench or grind their teeth in their sleep. One of the main causes of bruxism is stress, and there is no known cure for it. Even though it can be difficult to deal with, you can overcome the negative effects of bruxism by simply wearing a night guard. 

What is a Night Guard?

In case you do not know, a night guard is a retainer-like plastic piece that is placed inside your mouth. It can either be hard or soft, and covers the biting surfaces on the bottom or top teeth. Since teeth patterns vary, a  custom-made night guard is designed for patients. This is done by molding it to fit your teeth, thus, preventing it from being uncomfortable or bulky. It also has many other names, like mouthguard, occlusal guard, bite splint, dental guard, or nocturnal bite plate. If you hear any one of them, know that they all refer to the same thing.

Importance of Getting the Right Night Guard

Prevent Plaque Development

Saliva helps promote oral health by neutralizing the acids that cause cavities and washing away food particles. In doing so, it prevents plaque development. 

When looking for a night guard, you should consult an oral hygiene professional to prevent your teeth from becoming damaged. There are some night guards that are designed with holes, allowing saliva to access your teeth. A dentist will make sure to provide you with the right design based on the condition of your teeth.

Prevent Changing Your Bite


A night guard is made to fit your teeth and bite to protect the surfaces from grinding against each other. On the contrary, sports mouthguards are soft because they are made of a thicker rubbery material. For that reason, they are not designed to fit your bite. Softer material can lead you to chew while sleeping, because the brain will interpret it as food. This can potentially result in muscle discomfort and cause your bite to shift with time. 

Types of Night Guards

According to the American Sleep Association, night guards are classified depending on the materials from which they are made:

Hard Night Guards

These night guards are made from acrylic, making them the most durable type out there. They are designed to treat TMJ and severe teeth grinding and clenching cases. After the muscles start to relax, the bite changes. This is because the lower jaw is positioning itself in a healthy centric position. Through making adjustments to the bite on the guard, your muscles and jaw relax will be able to finally relax.

Night guards can also be organized into the following categories:

Over-the-counter

Drug stores offer over-the-counter night guards that are one-size-fits-all. This means that they are pre-molded to fit any mouth. There are also boil-and-bite night guards, which have to be softened in hot water to provide a better fit. However, long-term use of these devices can lead your bite to shift, because they have not been customized to fit the shape of your teeth.

Custom-made

These night guards offer a more personalized solution by using the impression of your teeth. To make this possible, a dentist will use professional materials and techniques to make a comfortable night guard designed just for you. As long as there is proper care and necessary adjustments, they will last for several years.

What to Consider When Choosing Between a Lower or Upper Night Guard

A night guard can be worn on either the top or bottom set of teeth. Here are some factors that can help you determine which one is best for providing maximum protection against grinding:

Comfort

An uncomfortable night guard will not fit your mouth properly, and neither will it benefit you. Since you will be sleeping through the night with the device in your mouth, you should prioritize comfort at all costs. During the day, if you grind your teeth, you should opt for a lower mouthguard, especially if you do not want to attract any attention, and have a sensitive gag reflex.

However, an upper night guard is bigger and bulkier than the lower one, making it more intrusive.

Teeth Condition

You should find the perfect night guard based on the condition of your teeth. Due to the fact that a custom-made night guard is made from your teeth impression, select the set that does not have many missing or crooked teeth to ensure a better fit.

Before doing anything, visit a professional to see if you have bruxism. Dentists always recommend getting a custom-made night guard, so you have no reason to be afraid of experiencing discomfort when protecting your teeth.Author’s Bio

Afsara Tasnim is a content writer for BreezeMaxWeb, who helps businesses grow their online presence through creating engaging copy. During her spare time, she enjoys taking photographs of nature and exploring the outdoors

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