People who grind and clench their teeth at night have a condition known as bruxism. A common recommendation in dentistry to control bruxism symptoms is a night guard. Because dental offices are busy places, your dentist might not have time to answer your main question which is “how does a night guard work?”. So, when your dentist tells you that you need a night guard for bruxism and walks out of the room only a few minutes later, you’re understandably left with some questions.
Dental night guards, also known as mouth guards, are a common and effective treatment for teeth grinding. While night guards do not cure teeth grinding, they are a non-invasive way to manage bruxism symptoms. Many people with bruxism experience pain and some even wake their partners up at night with the sound of their grinding.
The price of night guards varies; generic mouth guards are cheapest, while custom-fit mouth guards are more expensive. In this article, we’ll go into more detail to explain what all this means and to help you decide if a night guard is worth it.
How Night Guards Treat Teeth Grinding
Medical researchers have many theories on the cause of bruxism, but the exact cause is not known. Some of the possible contributing factors include stress, medications, and certain personality types. Because scientists aren’t quite sure what makes some people grind their teeth, night guards do not address the root cause of grinding. Instead, they manage symptoms and reduce oral health problems associated with bruxism.
Night guards — sometimes called splints — treat teeth grinding because they place a barrier between the teeth on the upper and lower jaw. This barrier protects teeth and reduces the negative effects of teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Side effects of bruxism can include jaw pain, temporomandibular joint disorder, sleep apnea, and facial pain. Additional oral health problems include tooth pain, tooth enamel loss, tooth sensitivity, broken teeth, and loss of teeth in severe cases.
Although the cause of bruxism is currently unknown, you can work with your dentist and healthcare provider to determine what might be contributing to your bruxism. While you work on examining the cause and making lifestyle changes a night guard can protect your teeth.
Types of Night Guards
There are many different night guard options. Talk to your dentist about which type might be best for you:
- Generic Night Guards: These are available over-the-counter at drug stores and online. They are typically sold as “one-size-fits-all” or “boil-and-bite.” Generic night guards are the cheapest type and are only appropriate for occasional, light grinding.
- Custom Night Guards: This type of night guard is made by a dental office or dental lab. They can be fitted at the dental office by hygienists or via impression kits at home. Typically, they are often made of durable acrylic that is long-lasting and highly protective.
The fit of the guard is an important consideration when choosing the right night guard to treat your teeth grinding. This is where a custom night guard typically performs better. The right night guard should fit snugly over your teeth without causing any pressure or pain. A snug fit ensures that the guard will stay in place throughout the night. In addition, a well-fitted night guard should make even contact with your opposing teeth. If a night guard makes uneven contact, it could concentrate the grinding forces on just a few of your teeth and cause discomfort, pain, or injury.
After speaking to your dentist and researching various night guard options, you still might wonder: is it worth it?
Are Night Guards Worth the Money?
The short answer to this question is: yes. If you have bruxism, a night guard will protect your teeth from damage. It’s no secret that dental work is expensive. It is much better for your pocket and your dental health to spend some money on a night guard than to undergo expensive dental treatments like root canals or dental implants. A night guard can also prevent painful side effects like headaches, TMJ disorder, and sore jaw muscles.
According to Sarah Palmer DDS, “Night guards will improve your overall quality of sleep and help you wake up feeling refreshed instead of groggy and in pain.” That reason alone might be enough to convince you to purchase a night guard. People with bruxism sometimes wake up groggy without knowing why.
If you haven’t already spoken to your dentist regarding your bruxism, talk to her or him and discuss the best treatment plan for you. A treatment plan might include other techniques like changing a medication or trying stress management techniques, but a night guard is almost always a main component in bruxism treatment. If you are able to cure your bruxism over time, then you may be able to stop using your night guard under the supervision of your dentist.
The Bottom Line
A night guard to treat bruxism is worth the money. By creating a barrier between your top and bottom teeth, it can reduce and eliminate bruxism symptoms. Night guards also protect your rear and front teeth, which saves you from pain and expensive dental procedures. Even though the dental appliance won’t cure your bruxism, it will make living with the condition much more pleasant.
Pro Teeth Guard offers custom-fit mouthguards online for an affordable price. Our night guards are custom made to fit either your upper or lower teeth. We fabricate every night guard in a professional dental lab using high quality materials and processes. This is effectively the mouthguard you’d receive from a dentist.