Night Guards

Types of Dental Night Guards | Which is Best?

dental night guard types which is best for me?
sentinel mouthguards soft night guard

Which Dental Night Guard Type is Right For Me?

Checked and updated for accuracy on February, 14th. 2023

This is the most comprehensive guide to dental night guard types.

In this new guide, you’ll learn about the different types of custom night guards and which one is right for you. Wearing a night guard is preventative.

All custom night guard types will serve to protect your teeth from the damages of direct tooth on tooth clenching and grinding. No matter which material you choose, your teeth are being protected by wearing a night guard consistently.

This article includes lots of insight from actual mouth guard manufacturers that cover things like safety of night guard material and more. Let’s dive right in!


What are the different night guard types?

Tired of vague product descriptions?

Here, we’ll give you a better understanding of the night guard you will be wearing in addition to the pros & cons of each type, so that you can make the right choice.


A quick word on one-size fits all night guards

Did you know that there have been a few studies suggesting that soft night guards actually encourage grinding? The argument here is that we innately want to chew on the soft plastic material.

This school of thought is generally directed toward the soft store bought sleep guards such as the Dentek Night Guard that you boil & bite to fit to your teeth. Because the Dentek night guard and other boil & bites alike are not true custom-fitted guards, there’s a greater chance that the guard will slide or move around while you sleep.

This action could entice the user to want to grind on the soft plastic device. We cannot stress enough that boiling & biting a mouth guard is not the same as having a custom fit night guard made for you.

It’s the difference between having a pair of pants that are too big for you professionally tailored to fit & throwing the pants in the dryer hoping they shrink a little.

Custom Night Guard Types

Hard Dental Night Guard

hard dental night guardHard dental night guard properties:

  • Non-flexible, rigid
  • Stays in place. Can help keep the teeth in position.
  • Most commonly made with a copolyester material or acrylic
  • Most commonly recommended for people that experience TMJ disorders
  • Durable for heavier teeth grinders and clenchers

When you’re considering purchasing the hard night guard, you should first determine your grinding habits. Are you a light, moderate or heavy grinder?

If you’re not sure, check with your dentist. He or she or they can see the wear on your teeth. They can see the fracture lines. They know. And you should listen. Because if you don’t listen, it could cost you thousands of dollars in dental repairs.

Hard night guards are known for their durability. They are mostly recommended for moderate to tough/heavy grinding habits. They also snap on and stay in place (remember the above mention of the increased chance of mobility found in some soft night guards?). Your night guard should stay secure on your teeth.

Hard night guards are also generally prescribed for people suffering from TMJD over the soft night guard types.

Cons of wearing a hard night guard

Some common complaints about the hard acrylic night guard often involve comfort. Some customers have said that the hard material is too tight, or oppositely, it comes loose. Some complain of hard (and even jagged) edges damaging the tongue or gums.

These complaints are most often a consequence of a dental professionals lack of care/knowledge when fabricating the night appliance.

It starts with a good dental impression. This is the first and most important step and should be taken very seriously. A clear and precise dental impression of your teeth will guarantee a perfect fit.

The second complaint (the hard/jagged edges) can be prevented by a caring, detail-oriented dental professional that will be careful not to extend the guard all the way to the margin (the gum line) and will use a high polishing technique to make every surface smooth and comfortable. Overall, most serious grinders prefer the hard acrylic stint option, or the dual laminated guard, as they are both tough, durable and excellent for keeping teeth aligned properly.


 Dual Laminated Dental Night Guard

sentinel mouthguards dual laminated night guard for teeth grindingDual Laminated Night Guard Properties:

  • Semi flexible for better comfort
  • Stays in place
  • Made with copolyester and EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate)
  • Most commonly recommended for moderate teeth grinding

This type of guard takes a special machine that combines heat & pressure to fuse two layers together.

Not all labs can make this type of sleep guard. It has a thin, soft inside, and a hard, durable outside. At Sentinel Mouthguards, the hard outside is made with the exact same hard material used to make the all-over hard dental night guard.

So you’re essentially getting the best of both worlds. Your teeth will feel comfortable against the soft gel-like inside, and the hard outside will do its “knightly” duties to combat the effects of bruxism. This little device is also extra durable. You will have to do some serious damage to grind through the two layers.

One concern some people have about this particular custom appliance is that it may be too thick. Here at Sentinel Mouthguards, we give you the option to choose your own thickness. You can choose between thin or thicker (1mm or 2mm).


Soft Dental Night Guard

sentinel mouthguards soft dental night guard

Soft Night Guard Properties

  • Flexible for ultimate comfort
  • Made with EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) material
  • Most commonly recommended for light to moderate teeth grinding
  • Choose from 3 thickness options
  • Excellent for protecting veneers, crowns

Recently, we added an option that enables you to choose your thickness. You can choose between 1mm (for light bruxism), 2mm (moderate bruxism), or 3mm (heavy bruxism).

The soft night guard is effective at preventing jaw pain, soreness, teeth damage, and headaches. It is said by dental professionals that these soft types do not typically last as long as the hard night guard or the dual laminated guard. Most companies end their warranty at about 6 months of use if they offer a warranty at all. However, we’ll let you in on a little secret.

These soft types can last quite a long time. It really just depends on your grinding habits. If you’re a light-to-medium grinder, this may be the perfect solution for you. Make sure to keep yours very clean (daily cleaning) and dry and store it in its original retainer case.

What is a night guard made out of?

All night guards are created equal. Dentists and labs alike are allowed to choose where they purchase their materials and supplies. Material prices range, and so does quality.

Here at Sentinel Mouthguards, we use Proform material for all of our night guards. This time tested material has proven to be consistent, high quality and durable.

The night guard material is BPA, Phthalate, Silicone & Latex, Gluten, and MMA free.

Additional information:

-The material is not considered hazardous by OSHA per 29 CFR 1910.

Choosing your night guard

Determine how severe your bruxism (teeth grinding) is. If you only grind sometimes and you feel like it is relatively light in intensity, a custom fit (not over the counter boil & bite) soft night guard may be a better option for you. A trained dentist will be able to accurately determine the severity of your grinding habits.

At Sentinel Mouthguards we continuously strive to provide you with the most up to date, accurate information on all mouth guard related topics. We would love to get your feedback!

Have questions? Visit our help center today!


sentinel mouthguards author
Ashely Notarmaso

Ashely Notarmaso is the author behind the Sentinel Mouth Guard Blog. She is the CEO and founder of Sentinel Mouth Guards (Founded in 2012) Her long-time work in the dental mouth guard arena and her excellent ability to listen to customer concerns in this often contradictory field has laid the groundwork to explore night guard/mouth guard fabrication in-depth and address real concerns. With the help of her team, she has created a unique fabrication method that promises a great fitting custom oral appliance every time. Amazon’s choice for #1 mouth guard! Visit the online store

Verified By

Dr. Lara Coseo

Baylor College of Dentistry

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.