When you start anything for the first time, you’ll undoubtedly be full of questions. Starting to wear a mouth guard for the first time might feel strange, and you’ll want to know how should a night guard fit and if your night guard is fitting properly.
As a teeth grinder and clencher myself, I know exactly what a night guard should feel like, and I remember how strange it felt having that foreign object in my mouth at first. The first few nights that I wore my night guard, I felt some pressure and the dental guard felt extremely tight on my teeth, but now that I’m used to it, it doesn’t feel strange at all. In fact, I now have trouble sleeping if I forget to wear my night guard.
While the exact cause of bruxism is unknown, it has been linked to stress, anxiety, sleep apnea, TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction), and jaw misalignment. The purpose of your night guard for bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching) is to create a physical barrier between your top teeth and bottom teeth. This barrier works to improve your oral health and reduce or even eliminate the negative side effects caused by your bruxism.
What to expect with the fit of your night guard
Many people are surprised at how tight their night guard fits when they first start wearing it; it might feel strange or uncomfortable, which can lead you to wonder if your night guard actually fits correctly.
Your night guard should fit snugly
The first important thing to understand about the fit of your dental guard is that it should pop into place and fit very snugly; you shouldn’t need to use the teeth on your opposite jaw to keep your night guard in place. This is true whether you have a night guard for your top teeth or your bottom teeth as well as whether you have a soft or hard night guard.
That tight fit is actually what tells you that your night guard is fitting correctly. Remember that you got impressions taken of your teeth so your night guard would fit like a glove and be custom to you. If it doesn’t fit like a glove, something is wrong.
Your mouth guard should feel like it’s securely holding your teeth exactly where they should be. It shouldn’t, however, feel like it’s putting so much pressure on your teeth that it’s moving them like it would if you were wearing Invisalign.
If you’re worried that your night guard is too tight, wait and see how your teeth feel in the morning. For the first few nights, you might experience a little bit of soreness as your teeth get used to the night guard, but your teeth shouldn’t feel extremely sore, nor should they ache. If this is the case, you’ll want to get your night guard fit reevaluated.
Your night guard won’t go all the way to the gum
Another important aspect about the fit of your night guard that’s important to understand is that it won’t be molded to your teeth all the way down to the gum in the front. Some people expect their night guard to fit all the way to the gum like Invisalign or orthodontic retainers, but that isn’t the case. Because your night guard is only designed to protect your teeth from grinding and clenching, it doesn’t need to completely surround your teeth all the way to the gum. Depending on the bite and the alignment of your teeth, your night guard might extend further up some teeth than others (e.g. front teeth v.s. back teeth), but in general it will only cover about half of your tooth.
The bite surface might be flat or indented
You should also be aware of the design of the occlusal surface of your night guard. This is the part of the night guard that comes in contact with your opposite jaw. It might not seem like that side of your night guard has anything to do with how your night guard fits, but it’s actually very important. There are two different types of occlusal surfaces: indented and flat.
An indented occlusal surface has an indentation, which allows your upper and lower teeth to rest in their natural position. If designed and fabricated properly, the indented surface should not stop your teeth from moving laterally while you grind them, but it can discourage that motion. This means a night guard with an indented occlusal surface might help reduce your grinding. The major drawback of an indented occlusal surface is that if you’re a heavy grinder, it could cause tired or sore jaw muscles when you wake up after grinding against the resistance of the indent. At Pro Teeth Guard, we make the majority of our night guards with an indented occlusal surface, but we can also make flat surfaces upon request.
A flat occlusal surface is--you guessed it--flat, and it allows your jaw to flow freely. While this type of night guard doesn’t discourage grinding in any way, it still protects your teeth against clenching and grinding. It is more comfortable for some people, especially those heavy grinders who face resistance against an indented occlusal surface.
Understanding how your night guard should fit helps ensure proper dental health so you can know when something feels wrong. Regardless of the type of night guard you have, it might feel bulky or odd in your mouth, but you should get used to it over time, and it should never be painful. If you’re experiencing pain or you just can’t get used to it, contact us and we can help assess the problem. Perhaps you need new impressions taken, you should try a different type of night guard, or you need to switch to either an indented or flat occlusal surface. You might also find that you like either a guard for your upper teeth or lower teeth better.
Side effects of a bad night guard fit
A bad fit can result in a variety of side effects. If you’re concerned that your night guard is not fitting correctly, keep an eye out for the following side effects. If you experience one or more of these, it’s time to have your fit reevaluated.
- Night guard falls out, leaving teeth vulnerable
- Night guard irritates or cuts gums, cheeks, or tongue
- Sore and aching teeth
- Extreme jaw soreness or pain
- Shifting teeth
How different types of night guards have different fits
Because all night guards are different, the fit is going to vary depending on the type of dental guard you have. Custom fit night guards fit much more snugly than over-the-counter mouth guards. One size fits all night guards might feel too loose, too small, or too bulky in your mouth. Over the counter boil-and-bite guard allow you to place the guard in hot water and then shape it to your teeth. This will provide a better fit than one size fits all guards; however, it’ll still be relatively bulky compared to the custom guards.
No matter what type of material you choose for a custom night guard, a professionally made custom fit night guard should always have a snug and secure fit.
Soft night guards might feel more comfortable than hard night guards that are more rigid. With a soft night guard, you might not feel as much pressure as you would with hard night guard. Dual laminate night guards are soft on the inside but hard on the outside. Again, you might not feel quite as much pressure or tightness with this type of night guard.
A hard night guard will most likely feel the most snug on your teeth. When you use a hard night guard from Pro Teeth Guard, you can help it fit correctly and comfortably by running it under warm water before placing it on your teeth. This softens the material a little bit so it perfectly fits your teeth every time.
What goes into ensuring a perfect fit
For your night guard to fit perfectly, it’s imperative that you take accurate teeth impressions and have your night guard professionally made. Custom fabrication at the dental lab ensures that your night guard fits like a glove to every peak and valley across your bite. An over the counter night guard is not going to give you that tight, secure fit that you’ll get from your custom fit night guard, and may cause some of the side effects of an ill fitting night guard.
When you have your night guard professionally made by Pro Teeth Guard, you have the added benefit of customer support and perfect fit guarantee, so if something goes wrong in the impression or production process and your night guard isn’t fitting correctly, you know that we’ll make it right and get that perfect comfortable fit.
Benefits of wearing a night guard
When your night guard fits correctly, you’ll reap all the benefits of wearing a night guard, which includes protecting your teeth from chips and cracks and eliminating side effects of bruxism like jaw pain, facial pain, and headaches. The teeth you have are the only ones you’re ever going to get, so it’s essential you do everything in your power to protect them. For many people, that means wearing a custom made night guard.