Dental Night Guards
Longevity, and How To Make Them Last Longer
How long do dental night guards last?
If you have been diagnosed with bruxism by your dentist, they may have recommended a night guard for you.
Dental night guards can be expensive. With such a hefty price tag, you may find yourself wondering how long a dental night guard will serve you. How long do dental night guards last before you need to get a replacement?
Night guards have varying durability
This can be is attributed to a number of factors such as:
- Type of night guard. Dental night guards come in different types, and each type is prescribed for a given severity of bruxism. The three most common types of night guards are: soft, hard, and hybrid (also called dual laminated)
- Thickness of guard. The thicker the guard, the more durable it will be.
The average lifespan of night guards typically given as 2-10 years (sometimes less – for the soft type). To understand the reason for this variation, let’s have a look at each type of night guard and its durability.
Soft Night Guards: 6 months+
This type is commonly prescribed to patients with mild bruxism. These are patients who don’t grind or clench their teeth on a nightly basis, and when they do so, the grinding is not so significant.
The material used to make these night guards is usually soft and doesn’t offer as much durability as other types of night guards, although these soft ones do handle the cases they have been prescribed for pretty well.
So, if you’re a light teeth grinder or jaw clencher, the soft night guard should suffice.
Dual Laminate (hybrid) Night Guard: 9 months to 5 years
The next type of night guard is the dual laminate night guard. This version is prescribed for moderate to severe bruxism. It is usually hard on the outside but soft on the inside, and offers more durability than the soft night guard. Again, the longevity of this night guard depends on individual grinding habits.
Hard Dental Night Guard: 12 months to 5 years
Last but not least is the hard dental night guard. Generally prescribed for moderate to severe bruxism, this type is more durable than double laminate, as long as it is 2mm thick or more.
This is due to the solid hard plastic used throughout the guard. Acrylic and acrylic-like plastic is a more durable material and can be known to last for 5 years or more under regular use.
Note: If you choose a thin style of any of the above mentioned guards, you can expect to gain comfort and a minimalist feel, but you will also be sacrificing durability.
Apart from the thickness of night guards, other factors also affect durability
These are: the severity of your teeth grinding as an individual, and the age of the individual. The age of the individual is a viable factor, since, for younger patients such as children, the night guards need to be changed frequently to accommodate the growth of teeth and teeth movement.
Despite the assured durability of a given type of night guard, there are certain practices that can cause the night guard to wear out faster than expected.
One of these practices is poor night guard maintenance. A common mistake, made by many people, is washing night guards using hot water.
Hot water is known to weaken the plastic, and as a result, the night guard loses shape and fails to fit well in the mouth, calling in for a replacement.
Eating and drinking with your night guard on will also contribute to reduced durability. The food or drink may discolor it and the food particles may accumulate on the mouth guard, providing a breeding place for bacteria and viruses. The material will discolor, become brittle and may warp or break.
Clean Your Night Guard To Ensure Longevity
It is everyone’s desire to prolong the life of their dental night guard.
The surest way to do this is through careful maintenance of your night guard. Cleaning night guards is a commonly ignored matter when it should be imperative.
There are several ways of cleaning your night guard. One quick way is cleaning it using cold water, a toothbrush and toothpaste; just like you clean your own teeth. Keep in mind though that some toothpastes can be very abrasive.
What’s the best way to clean my night guard?
An ideal solution is to purchase a natural cleanser – such as Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap.
You can cut this particular soap with water so it lasts longer.
Using a soft toothbrush, place a tiny piece of peppermint soap on the brush and gently clean your guard. Remember to dry it completely afterwards.
It leaves a nice peppermint smell. It’s all organic and very effective at keeping your guard fresh.
Apart from this simple exercise – which should be done on a daily basis – it is recommended that once in a week, you soak it in a mix of a mouth guard cleaner and water for a few hours. This will remove plaque and bacteria in the night guard, and also give it a nice smell.
Makeshift mouth guard cleaners such as vinegar have been suggested by some, though they are not highly recommended as their odor will penetrate the plastic.
Once you have cleaned your night guard, ensure you dry it thoroughly and keep it in a ventilated box, away from any heat source.
Dental night guards can serve you for a long time if you get the right type and maintain it the right way. In return for the service you are giving it, it will protect your teeth and save you from frighteningly costly dental repairs down the road.