Wearing a properly sized night guard can promote better oral health by protecting your mouth from the harmful effects of teeth grinding, like headaches, jaw muscle soreness, tooth sensitivity of the upper or lower teeth, and sleep disruption. Teeth grinders and sufferers of TMJ who do not seek treatment are at risk for gum disease as well. You’ve had your night guard for some time, and you’ve followed the care instructions to the letter. However, you wonder when to replace your mouth guard and how long does a night guard last?
How Long Do Night Guards Last?
A night guards lifespan will vary based on three factors:
- The severity of grinding
- The type and quality of night guard you have
- How well you maintain your night guard
In general; however, you can expect a night guard for bruxism to last between 6 months and 3 years. Eventually, you will have to replace your night guard with a new guard. A night guard for bruxism works by taking on the pressure of grinding away from your teeth. Inevitably, this will lead to wear and tear. Fortunately, high quality night guards will last longer than generic one-size-fits-all guards. There are different kinds of mouth guards for varying levels of grinding.
When Do You Need to Replace a Night Guard?
It is important to know when it is time to purchase a new mouth guard. You want the device to be effective and for it to do its job, it can’t be worn down or broken. Remember, each type of night guard has its own lifespan of usefulness, and much of this will depend on how severely you grind your teeth and how well you care for your night guard. The following are some signs of wear that indicate it is time to replace your mouth guard:
- The night guard no longer fits your mouth very well.
- You notice cracks, tears, or holes in the night guard.
- The cracked guard has caused irritating mouth sores.
- The night guard doesn’t protect your teeth from grinding damage.
- There is discoloration present on the night guard. (This could be mold.)
If you are unsure of whether you need to replace your night guard, visit your dentist for a dental checkup. They will be able to examine your teeth as well as your mouth guard for signs of wear and tear.
Types of Night Guards
Over-the-counter night guards are sold at most drug stores. They are generic one-size guards, so they do not fit to the unique features of an individual’s mouth. While they are the cheapest option, these guards are not recommended by dentists to treat bruxism or TMJ for fear that they may cause an abnormal bite. They do not have the durability, quality, or customization that custom-fit mouth guards offer. As a result, they do not last as long either.
- Custom-Fitted Night Guards
Custom night guards are the dentist recommended treatment option for bruxism. These guards are customizable to the individual and provide a barrier between the teeth to prevent grinding and clenching. These guards generally come in four types: soft, hard, hybrid, and daytime guards.
- Soft Night Guards
These night guards are suited for light to moderate grinders. The soft night guard is also a good option for those who clench their jaws because its soft material absorbs clenching forces. It is made of a rubbery, flexible material. Soft night guards generally last between 6 months and 2 years based on the severity of grinding.
- Hard Night Guards
Hard night guards are made from a more durable acrylic material, making them the perfect solution for heavy to severe grinders. Due to this tougher material, the hard night guard can last anywhere from 2 to 5 years before replacement.
- Hybrid Night Guards
The hybrid guard (or dual laminate night guard) is for moderate to heavy grinders. It is composed of a hard outer material and a soft inside, providing both durability and comfort. These guards may last between 1 and 3 years.
- Daytime Guards
The daytime guard is ultra thin as it allows for people who grind during the day to speak effectively. This ultra thin guard can last between 6 months and 2 years.
There are other devices and retainers for conditions such as sleep apnea. Additionally, there are night guards, mouth guards, and occlusal splints specifically for TMJ and the resulting jaw pain. These include repositioning splints, stabilization splints, and NTI devices. The lifespan of these dental guards will vary.
Night Guard Maintenance
Cleaning your night guard is imperative to prolong the life of your mouth guard. Cleaning your mouth guard should be part of your daily dental care. Dental professionals strongly recommend that you brush your night guard daily, with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Avoid using hot water to clean the guard as this can soften the plastic and change the shape. In addition, complete a deep clean of the device every other week. Some effective methods of deep cleaning your mouth guard include:
- Baking soda
- Soap and water (ensure the soap is alcohol-free)
- Denture cleaning solution
- Hydrogen peroxide
In addition to cleaning the device regularly, you should store your mouth guard in a dry plastic case. Be sure to completely dry your night guard off before placing it in the case. This will help to avoid bacterial growth. Read our article “How To Clean A Mouthguard” for more information in this regard.
Night Guard Lifespan
A custom-fitted mouth guard for bruxism will usually last between 6 months and 3 years. This form of treatment may help you avoid cosmetic dentistry and other invasive dental work in the future. The lifespan of a night guard will depend on the quality of the guard, the severity of teeth grinding/clenching, and how well you take care of the guard. Over-the-counter mouth guards are cheaper but do not have the durability and protection of a custom-fit night guard.
If it is time for you to replace your night guard, check out our custom-fitted dental night guards at Pro Teeth Guard. We pride ourselves in providing high quality, durable mouth guards to our customers with a 110% money back guarantee.
- Nunez, K. (2020). How to Clean Mouthguards: At home, with chemicals, and more. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-clean-mouthguard#cleaning-at-hom