Night Guards

Types of Dental Night Guards | Which is BEST?

Which Dental Night Guard Type is Right For Me?

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.

(Including 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?

types of dental night guards

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.

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.

Now this school of thought is directed more towards the soft store bought sleep guards like 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.



hard dental night guardFirst up! The Hard Dental Night Guard.

Hard 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

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

How do you know? Your dentist knows. 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 upon thousands of dollars in dental repairs.

Wearing a night guard is preventative.

Also, all of our night guards will serve to protect your teeth from the damages of direct tooth on tooth clenching and grinding. Wear a night guard. A properly fitted night guard. It matters. 

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.

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.

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.


Up next! The Dual Laminated Dental Night Guard

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

Not all offices/companies can make this type of sleep guard. It has a thin, soft inside, and a hard, durable outside. 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 1mm or 2mm.

If you see a company boasting that their night guards are 3mm or thicker, you may want to reconsider using them. 3mm+ is great for an athletic mouth guard (when you’re potentially taking hits to the face) but if you’re attempting to wear a thick night guard while you sleep, there’s a good chance it is going to end up on the other side of your bedroom in the morning.

Last but certainly not least, the Soft Dental Night Guard

smiling girl wearing soft night guard

The soft custom fitted night guard is semi-flexible and very “out of the box” comfortable. 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. Now, 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.

twitter talk about mouth guards


What is a night guard made out of?

We can’t tell you that 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. We have been making mouth guards and night guards for over ten years and this time tested material has proven to be consistent, high quality and durable.

Product Name: Proform NiteGuard Manufacturer: KEYSTONE INDUSTRIES. The night guard material is BPA-free, and also Phthalate, Silicon & Latex free.

Additional information:

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

At Sentinel Mouthguard Co., 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!



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.