Occlusal Guard: Soft, Hard Acrylic, Or Dual Laminated: Which type is right for you?

First, what is teeth grinding and why is a professionally custom made occlusal guard (based on a dental impression of your teeth) the preferred choice

  1. Teeth Grinding a.k.a Bruxism
    1. Bruxism is excessive grinding of the teeth and/or excessive clenching of the jaw. Bruxism is an oral parafunctional activity; i.e., not an activity related to normal function such as eating or talking. Bruxism is a common problem: reports of prevalence range from 8–31% in the general population. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teeth_grinding    Note* Sleep bruxism can be definitively diagnosed in a sleep laboratory by means of a costly test called polysomnographic recordings.

They are called many names. The occlusal guard, night guard, nocturnal bite plate, dental guard, mouth guard for teeth grinding, and bite splint are the most common terms used. A true custom fit mouth guard for teeth grinding is made by taking a dental impression of your teeth. A stone replica of your exact dental anatomy is then made from your impression. The difference between a custom made dental guard and a stock type that you would by in the store is quite significant. The main problem with the “one size fits all” type is that mouths (in general) are not one size. Men typically have bigger mouths than women. A teenager vs an adult is going to be a completely different size. The arch of teeth can vary greatly from person to person. So when you buy an over the counter type (even the boil & bite guards), disappointment usually follows. Most commonly, complaints include being “too bulky”, “uncomfortable to sleep in”, “falls out during the night” etc.

If you must wear a night guard (and let us warn you, if you are grinding/clenching your teeth night after night, You. Must. Wear. A. Nightguard) your best bet is to get professionally fitted and have a custom night guard made from either a dental lab online or your local dental office. If cost is an issue, you can go through a night guard lab online. By going this route, you can order directly through the night guard company. Your online night guard lab will ship out a do it yourself impression kit (consists of mixing putty and a plastic tray). You take your own dental impression and mail it back to the company. Your true custom night guard will be processed and shipped to you. Cost varies from company to company but you can expect to pay between $100-$200. Now if you go through your local dental office, expect to pay a good amount more. Dental office prices GREATLY vary (from $300-$1200). More on this here–the pros and cons of online dental night guard labs vs the dental office

Online Night Guard Lab

Online Night Guard Lab

Finding A Night Guard That Is Right For You

When you start to shop for a custom night guard, you may become confused about which one to choose. How do you know if you need a hard type or a soft type? What exactly is a dual laminated night guard? What if you grind your teeth during the day? Do you need to be wearing a day time guard as well? Most of all, will any of these guards be comfortable enough during sleep?

These are all important questions and we’ve noticed that people are searching the web for answers quite frequently but the information that is being put out there on the web is often times conflicting and vague.

Here we will attempt to answer these questions in more detail.

So how do you know if you need a hard night guard or a soft one?

Here’s the not so great news. Even dentists can’t all agree on which night guard type is better. You should seek to evaluate your own teeth grinding habits and make a guided choice based on what you know about your own particular situation. Establish what type of teeth grinder/jaw clencher you are. A dentist can look at your teeth and tell you if you’re doing short & long term damage to your teeth. Instinctually, you may also know if you’re doing some serious damage to your teeth. If you wake up every day (for instance) with mouth/jaw/teeth soreness and a headache, you should look into purchasing a night guard.

 

Soft Night Guard

Very recently, there has been a shift in the way dentists and researchers are viewing the soft night guard. This soft type has generally been the most common style of night guard produced in dental offices but recent research has indicated that the soft material may actually encourage grinding by up to 50%. The cases that have been reported/studied show that this new revelation is more prevalent with the thicker stock or boil & bite guards (such as when a person buys an over the counter mouthguard and tries to conform it to their teeth). However, you should still be aware of this risk when deciding on which guard to choose. The professionally made custom soft guards are small & comfortable but may wear down a bit quicker than the dual laminated and hard acrylic guards (depends on the degree of your grinding or clenching habits). Sentinel Mouthguards offers a 6 month replacement warranty on this guard type in the event that you grind through your guard or it becomes defective.

 

Hard Acrylic Night Guard

The hard acrylic night guard is small & low profile yet very durable. It is generally recommended for moderate to extreme grinders/clenchers or persons suffering from TMJ. Be aware that teeth may shift overtime. A hard acrylic dental guard does not allow much “wiggle room” for ANY changes to the teeth. So think about this when you’re making your decision. If you plan on having work done in the future that could change your dental anatomy (new crown, bridge, bonding, implants, veneers, even cavities being filled could alter your anatomy enough to change how your night guard fits) consider getting a night guard made for the opposing arch or choose a different (more adaptable) type.

In addition to wearing a hard night guard, you may need to seek additional treatment (if suffering from TMJ). In some cases, a special type of night guard that could involve ramps and/or metal clasps may need to be made from your dentist/TMJ specialist. If you’re experiencing alignment issues or if you know you suffer from TMJ please consult with a dentist before ordering a night guard online. Sentinel Mouthguards offers a 2 year replacement warranty on this guard type in the event that you grind through your guard or it becomes defective.

 

Dual Laminated Night Guard

This guard type is relatively new on the scene. It combines two layers of material (a soft inside and a hard acrylic outside). It’s going to be a just a wee bit thicker than the hard acrylic guard. This nightime guard can handle heavy jaw clenching/teeth grinding. The soft plastic is comfortable against the teeth and the hard outside acts as a protective shell. Customer feedback has given us some insight into the preference of the general public. We have found that most people are extremely happy with the fit of the dual laminated night guard. Sentinel Mouthguards offers a 2 year replacement warranty on this guard type in the event that you grind through your guard or it becomes defective.

Pro tip: Sentinel Mouthguard Co. guarantees 100% satisfaction. If you choose a guard and you’re not happy with it, we will make you a different type free of charge.

What Do You Think?

Do you prefer an upper or lower dental guard?

  • Upper
  • Lower
Choosing An Upper Or Lower Mouth Guard For Teeth Grinding

When deciding on an upper or lower guard, there may be some obvious factors that will dictate your decision. For instance, if you’re missing teeth on either the upper or lower set, you will want to choose the set that has more. Or if you know you’re grinding your teeth, and you need to get a night guard quickly but you have some upcoming dental work on your upper teeth that may change your dental anatomy, you will want to go with the lower teeth(or vice versa). Same thing with loose teeth, or loose crowns/bridge work, etc- You’ll want to choose an opposing guard and avoid the potential to loosen that dental work with the continuous use of a tight fitting night guard.

Now, if you have all of your nice solid teeth on both the upper and lower and no plans for upcoming dental work, it really just comes down to preference . History tells us that the upper guard has been the “go to” choice but if you think a lower guard would feel more comfortable then go for it. We’ve had many customers say that they prefer the lower guard over the upper as it tends to be smaller and less obtrusive. *note-  if you’re a tongue thruster you may be inclined to lift the edge of your lower night guard with your tongue (something to consider).

Are Night Guards BPA Free? Latex Free? What Are Night Guards Made Of?

Most night guards are made from EVA material (Ethylene-vinyl acetate (also known as EVA) is the copolymer of ethylene and vinyl acetate).The material is BPA free and latex free & is not considered hazardous or toxic by OSHA per 29 CFR 1910.

For good measure, you can always ask your dentist or night guard lab to supply information regarding the materials used in the fabrication of your sleep device.

Sentinel mouthguards are made with Proform materials. The material is BPA free and latex free & is not considered hazardous or toxic by OSHA per 29 CFR 1910.

A Quick Explanation Of Teeth Grinding And Night Guards