Cold air, cold food, hot water, acidic food… do the items on this list make you flinch just thinking about the tooth sensitivity and pain they’ll cause? Did you know that suffering from tooth sensitivity and bruxism at the same time is common and that teeth grinding can even cause tooth sensitivity? You may now think of looking for a mouth guard for sensitive teeth.
Putting anything on your sensitive teeth — let alone a form-fitting dental appliance — probably seems scary. However, rather than causing more pain, a night guard might actually make your teeth feel better because it will treat your bruxism. Learn more below about what to buy as a mouth guard for sensitive teeth, what might be causing your sensitive teeth, and strategies to protect them.
Best Mouth Guards for Sensitive Teeth
A dental guard, also referred to as a mouth guard or night guard, is a common solution in dentistry to treat the symptoms of bruxism. If your dentist tells you that you need a night guard, it’s a good idea to listen to her or him. Bruxism can wreak havoc in your mouth and jaw. It’s understandable to be hesitant, so ask your dentist if there are any other options for your treatment. If it turns out that a night guard is the best option, you can choose one that is most comfortable for you and your unique oral situation.
The two main types of mouth guards for grinding are over-the-counter night guards and professional custom-fit night guards.
Over-the-counter guards are typically one-size-fits-all or boil and bite style. Custom night guards are typically made of three different materials and styles: soft, hybrid, or hard.
When you have sensitive teeth, you might not want to put a hard night guard on. The contact that it makes with your teeth might cause you some pain. Furthermore, you might be hesitant to pay for a night guard if it will be too painful to wear anyway. Paying for a mouth guard that sits on your bedside table night after night is obviously not the solution.
To start out, the best night guard for you is probably a soft custom mouth guard. Custom guards are fabricated using a mold of your teeth, which provides more comfort. This ensures the mouth guard won’t make contact with your teeth at unnatural angles, and it also ensures that it will be big enough to cover the surface of every tooth. Additionally, the soft material won’t feel as harsh on your teeth as a hard night guard might. The soft material will probably still take some getting used to, however, it should not be painful.
Once you start wearing a soft night guard for a while, you might find your sensitivity decreases, especially if your dentist helps you restore your enamel. If you find that your tooth sensitivity was caused by bruxism and improves while using a soft night guard, you might be able to then switch to a hybrid or hard night guard. These types of mouth guards are better for serious grinders because they tend to be stronger and more durable.
Of course, always consult with your dentist before choosing a night guard or switching to a different type of mouth guard.
What Causes Sensitive Teeth?
There are many things that can lead to sensitive teeth, not just bruxism. A few common causes of sensitive teeth include:
- Weak or worn tooth enamel (this can be caused by whitening toothpaste or hard brushing)
- Gum recession
- Cracked teeth
- Teeth clenching
- Teeth grinding
When bruxism is the cause of your sensitive teeth, it is often because the act of grinding slowly wears away the enamel on your teeth. After the enamel is worn away, a part of your teeth called dentin gets exposed. Dentin is a very strong layer made of tubles, and it sits just beneath your enamel. Pain and sensitivity happens when enamel is gone and dentin is exposed to tooth sensitivity triggers.
Another way that clenching and grinding can lead to sensitive teeth is simply due to the pressure you’re putting on your nerves and muscles around your teeth. This pressure can make your nerves and muscles inflamed, irritated, and painful.
If you can determine what’s causing your tooth sensitivity, you might be able to take steps to make it better. In turn, that might make your night guard feel more comfortable.
Additional Steps to Protect Sensitive Teeth
Whether a night guard relieves your sensitive teeth or not, wearing one for bruxism is important for your oral health. Consult with a dental professional to find out what other steps might be most effective to protect your sensitive teeth. Your dentist may recommend a fluoride treatment, using a softer toothbrush, or getting a gum graft.
For those of us with bruxism and sensitive teeth, a mouth guard is essential. It can prevent your teeth from further damage, which could include increased tooth sensitivity, jaw pain and TMJ. When bruxism goes unchecked long-term, it can lead to severe problems such as cracked and broken teeth that can only be treated in a dental office.