Medically reviewed and verified by:
Dr. Lara Coseo, (DDS, FAGD) is a 2004 graduate of Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas, Texas.
Having practiced general dentistry for 13 years, Dr. Lara currently serves as an Associate Professor at Texas A&M College of Dentistry.
Upper or lower dental night guard? Which one do I choose?
Many people grind or clench their teeth at night during sleep. This is a condition known as nocturnal bruxism. Over time, bruxism can lead to the wearing away of the teeth enamel, as well as a host of other problems such as cracked teeth or jaw pain. After the enamel is worn, this also opens up the opportunity for cavities to form in the teeth.
Although nocturnal bruxism typically can’t be “cured”, there is an easy solution for those who grind or clench at night in the form of wearing an upper or lower dental night guard. While there are some dental night guards that can be purchased from commercial, big box stores, a bruxer’s best bet is to have one custom made, by your dentist or an online dental night guard lab. This ensures a proper, effective fit that provides comfort and prevents slipping.
The dental night guard acts as a cushioned barrier between the upper and lower teeth, so that while your jaw may still, in fact, be going through the motions of grinding or clenching, the teeth are not making contact with each other which prevents further damage to them.
Wearing a night guard does not CURE teeth grinding.
Yet it effectively saves your teeth from physical harm and can save a person thousands of dollars in dental repair bills. It can also relieve uncomfortable pain that stems from the act of grinding the teeth and clenching the jaw.
“Should I Buy an Upper Or Lower Night Guard?”
Dental night guards can be made for either the upper teeth or the lower teeth, but usually not both.
Many people wish to know “what is the difference between an upper or lower night guard?”. They also wish to know if one type of guard is better than the other – and which they should choose.
For common cases of bruxism, most find that either one will provide the same results. The upper dental night guard is still the most common type made, but this may simply be due to a slow progression towards the acceptance & use of lower night guards within the industry. In other words, it may be that, because the dental night guard was originally made for the upper teeth, dentists/lab technicians are still commonly fabricating the upper teeth guard out of habit or preference for no substantiated reason. Though you will always find varying opinions such as dentists who favor lower guards for their patients who grind their teeth.
Most people will first learn of their bruxing disorder through their dentist, so naturally, they make a follow-up appointment in order to have impressions made for a custom dental night guard.
An alternative and cost-effective option for creating a great fitting custom night guard is to contact us here at Sentinel Mouthguards.
We will mail out a dental impression kit for you to take your own impressions at home, then, you mail the impressions back to our lab and we’ll have the custom guard made for you. We provide you with a cost-saving solution, without ever having to leave your home! More about this can be found on our FAQs page.
Either way, a custom-made guard provides you with a much better fit than one of the boil and bite versions you might buy from your local pharmacy or retail outlet.
Most mouth guards are made from materials such as acetate, rubber, acrylic, or vinyl. You should check to make sure your night guard is BPA, Silicon, and Latex free.
When either an upper or lower dental night guard fits properly, the wearer should not experience slipping or moving of the guard. They also should not be able to “spit” the guard out during sleep. The guard should be comfortable and mold itself to the form of your teeth, while keeping the teeth in place. This is another reason why an upper or lower dental night guard made by a dental professional or lab is far superior to those found in stores.
Sentinel Mouthguards are made from BPA, Silicon & Latex FREE material.
EVA (Ethylene – Vinyl Copolymer) is the material used for the Sentinel Soft Dental Night Guard. This product contains no HAPs or ODS & does not contain any chemicals listed under the U.S. Clean Water Act Priority Pollutant and Hazardous Substance List. This product is not considered to be hazardous under the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard and is regulated under Section 311-312 (40 CFR 370). It is safe to use in the mouth on a nightly basis and will not irritate the oral area or skin.
The Sentinel Hard Dental Night Guard is made of a copolyester material. Prolonged contact is non-irritating to the oral cavity or skin. This product also neither contains HAPs or ODS, nor any chemicals listed under the U. S. Clean Water Act Priority Pollutant and Hazardous Substance List and is not considered to be hazardous under the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard.
Finally, the Sentinel Dual-Laminated Night Guard is a combination of both materials stated above and meets all likewise requirements.
Taking your dental impression on the upper teeth and lower teeth
If you opt for a lower dental impression, you’ll notice that the impression tray will look slightly different from an upper teeth impression tray. The lower tray has a “cut out” for your tongue. Follow the instructions exactly as written and you will be sure to get a great impression no matter which teeth arch you choose – ensuring that your upper or lower dental night guard fits like a glove.
What are the dentists saying?
Here are some varying opinions from dentists on whether to choose an upper or lower night guard:
“Both upper or lower dental night guards serve the same function. They provide a gliding surface for teeth to rub against rather than a direct impact on teeth to teeth. If someone has a gag reflex, we may recommend a lower night guard .” –Mark Bishara, DDS
“After 21 years of making these occlusal guards, I find that lower appliances are better tolerated and provide a significantly better therapeutic effect. 24 hours is all that is necessary to get used to it. The tongue adapts beautifully.” –Marc G. Rothman, DMD
“The design of your dental night guard is dependent on several factors, which might include your bite, the affect on speech or airway, your tolerance for having an appliance in your mouth, or even the preference of your dentist; just to name a few. There is no “right way” that applies to every situation. What is most important is that it fits, is used, and protects your teeth and jaw joint from the destructive forces that can accompany the harmful habits of unconscious grinding. For long term use, the night guard should also cover all the teeth. This kind of design prevents shifting of your teeth and changes to your bite.” –Jonathan F. Richards, DDS
Reference Source: Doctorbase.com
The Bottom Line
Consult your dentist as to whether they feel your individual case would benefit most from an upper or lower night guard. In most cases, it’s simply a matter of getting a well fitting guard that does its job of keeping the upper and lower jaw from coming into contact with each other.