Dental night guards are designed to withstand a great deal of pressure. After all, the average strength of a human's bite is roughly 162 pounds per square inch according to BBC Science Focus Magazine. So while an effective night guard should be durable, nothing lasts forever. If your oral appliance is cracked, torn, or showing wear, you may wonder how to fix a broken night guard. However, even if a repair is an option, it may not be the best one. Smart users will also explore whether a replacement offers a better path forward.
Repair Versus Replacement
Professional-quality night guards are made from hard-wearing materials and designed to withstand pressure and friction from tooth grinding and jaw clenching. However, they aren't invulnerable.
Changes in your bite or more aggressive grinding or clenching behaviors can set the stage for damage to your night guard. Over time, simple wear and tear can also take a toll. Eventually, you'll likely discover your night guard is cracked, chipped, torn, or worn out.
While a quick internet search will likely turn up a variety of suggestions for gluing, filing, patching, or remolding your night guard, a do-it-yourself repair is rarely wise. In fact, any attempt to fix your appliance yourself can void your warranty. Worse, you may end up with a cobbled-together mouth guard that no longer works properly and puts your oral health at risk.
If you think that your night guard can be repaired, don't channel your inner MacGyver. Instead, pay a visit to your dental office. They can tell you if a professional fix is possible and wise. After all, if your night guard didn't last as long as expected, it might mean you need a different type of night guard to protect your teeth.
In some cases, a night guard or occlusal splint repair may be possible. But if a safe repair isn't possible, the night guard can’t tame your bruxism, or the device is reaching the end of its lifespan, then replacement is a clear choice.
Night Guard Lifespans
The lifespan of a night guard partly depends on its user. People who have only mild teeth grinding or jaw clenching can likely use their night guard for a longer amount of time. Individuals with severe bruxism or grinders who need a harder night guard will probably need to replace their night guards more frequently. Maintenance also matters. Wearers who take good care of them tend to get more use from their night guards.
The type of night guard also matters. An over-the-counter (otc) mouthguard purchased at your local drugstore will not last as long or work as well as a high-quality, custom-fit device crafted in a dental lab. Thickness is another concern. While the material makes a difference, thinner night guards will often wear faster than thicker ones. Soft or hard is also a factor. Here's how long you can expect your night guard to last:
- Soft night guards: These offer more comfort than durability. They last between six months and two years.
- Hybrid night guards: These cover a soft inside with a durable outer layer. They last between 1-3 years.
- Hard night guards: These are the toughest. They last between 2-5 years.
A Night Guard's Job
Without intervention, bruxism's repetitive teeth grinding and jaw clenching can significantly harm your oral health. Tooth sensitivity, cracked and broken teeth, and pain in the jaw's joints and muscles are all common complaints. Other side effects can include jaw pain and sore jaw muscles.
A night guard's job is to protect your teeth from pressures of bruxism. Wearing a night guard places a thin barrier between the upper and lower teeth. As a result, the night guard takes the brunt of the friction and pressure generated by your grinding and clenching, shielding your teeth. Some types of night guards can also help TMJ. However, a night guard can only do its job if it's in good shape.
If you're wondering how to fix your broken night guard, make an appointment with your dentist. A dental professional like a doctor of dental surgery (DDS) can advise you whether a repair is possible or a replacement is needed. When you're ready for a new night guard, check out Pro Teeth Guard. We offer custom-fit mouthguards made in a professional dental lab for affordable prices. Plus, every night guard is guaranteed to fit comfortably with our 110% money-back guarantee.