Tooth Grinding Guards: What You Need to Know
It can be disappointing to know that you’re not off the hook even when you follow the best practices for healthy teeth. Your healthy teeth could still be at risk of getting damaged if you have a tooth grinding problem.
If you consult a dentist, they will recommend wearing tooth grinding guards, also known as dental night guards, mouth guards, or nocturnal bite plates.
What Is a Tooth Grinding Guard?
A dental night guard is a plastic or rubber covering fitted over your teeth, creating an effective barrier between the lower and upper teeth. They are often used to manage teeth grinding, gnashing, or clenching.
Children or adults suffering from bruxism may unconsciously grind their teeth. Unfortunately, the excessive friction from grinding can wear down the tooth surfaces. The enamel can chip, crack, or fracture with time. In severe cases, the teeth can come loose and fall out.
Who Else Needs to Wear Mouth Guards?
It is not only people with bruxism that need the nocturnal bite plates. Players participating in contact sports like boxing, rugby, hockey, mixed martial arts, and soccer can use mouth guards to protect their teeth against potential damage.
Some non contact sports like acrobatics and gymnastics also subject participants to the risk of mouth injury. Even recreational activities such as surfing, skateboarding, skiing, and skydiving could harm your teeth, lips, tongue, and soft tissues of the mouth.
People with snoring problems or mild sleep apnea can benefit from dental night guards. The guards help free your airway by pulling the lower jaw and tongue forward.
A mouth guard may also be worthwhile for those diagnosed with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD).
Types of Mouth Guards and Costs
When you decide to get tooth grinding guards, here are the options to consider:
• Custom-designed dental night guards
With this type, the dentist takes dental impressions to copy the shape of your teeth and surrounding oral structures. The doctor sends the mold to a professional laboratory to create tooth grinding guards according to your unique dental requirements.
Custom-made dental night guards are highly comfortable and more effective than other types. However, they are the most expensive option available.
On average, custom-fit mouth guards cost between $200 and $800.
• Boil and bite dental night guards
These mouth guards are exactly what the name says. You boil the material in hot water to soften it. Then, you place the material in your mouth and bite down on it gently while it is still soft.
The boil and bite mouth guard manufacturers will provide instructions to ensure you achieve a comfortable fit.
These night guards usually provide a better-personalized fit than the stock mouth protectors. You can purchase them from sporting goods and online stores.
Expect to pay $20 to $30 for boil and bite mouth guards.
• Stock mouth guards
It is better to wear stock mouth guards than to have none. This is the least expensive option, costing $1 to $15. The protectors come ready to wear, but you might struggle to get a perfect fit because of the limited sizes.
You can find these night guards in sporting goods and drug stores. While the guards can help prevent the effects of teeth grinding, you will realize they are uncomfortable and bulky.
They may also interfere with your speech and breathing even when you fit them properly.
How Long Will the Dental Night Guards Last?
The lifespan of a mouth guard depends on several factors, including the type, grinding severity, and level of care. For example, if you have a custom-fit dental night guard, you may need to replace it after six months to 5 years.
Over-the-counter mouth guards will likely need replacement every few months, typically after each season. This is especially the case for adolescents. That’s because their mouths are still developing as they enter adulthood.
No-Show Day Mouth Guard for Teeth Grinding and Clenching$124.00
Extreme Hard Custom Night Guard for Heavy Teeth Grinding$215.00
Tongue and Cheek Biting Relief Mouth Guards$179.00
Hard Custom Night Guard for Teeth Grinding and Clenching$149.00
Soft Custom Night Guard for Teeth Grinding and Clenching$124.00
Dual Laminated Custom Night Guard for Teeth Grinding and Jaw Clenching$149.00
Can I Wear Mouth Guards With Braces?
Yes, it is recommended to wear a dental night guard even if you have braces or fixed dental bridges. However, you will need to get your dental impression taken by a dentist who can protect your braces during the process. Do not use an at-home dental impression kit if you have braces. Putty and braces do not mix.
When engaging in sports or high-risk recreational activities, a mouth guard can prevent damage to the dental fittings if you, unfortunately, suffer injury to the face.
The guard will also protect the teeth, lips, tongue, and soft tissues in your checks. For better protection, you will want to use custom-made mouth guards.
If you are wearing removable dental appliances like retainers, it is best to remove them before you start playing sports, except if you have a set of Invisalign trays. You can wear mouth guards with Invisalign trays.
Do You Need an Upper or Lower Tooth Grinding Guard? Or Both?
The decision depends on your preference, but you will probably not need guards on the lower and upper teeth. One tooth grinding guard is enough to provide an effective protective barrier unless your dental professional says otherwise.
Many patients go for an upper guard, citing that it is more comfortable. An upper guard poses little obstruction for the tongue, unlike its counterpart.
Your dentist can recommend fitting the mouth guards over the lower teeth, especially if you recently received dental implants, crowns, or similar dental work.
Since a lower dental night guard is not against gravity, it offers the perfect fit.
How Do I Clean and Care For My Orthodontic Night Guards?
Cleaning and caring for tooth grinding guards takes little effort. It’s advisable to use cold water or a mouth rinse.
Rinsing alone may not be enough to remove debris and plaque from your tooth grinding guard. Make sure you deep clean it with a toothbrush and mild soapy water at least once a week. And always after cleaning, allow your guard to air dry before storing it in the case or container that allows air circulation.
Avoid exposing your orthodontic night guard to high temperatures. Otherwise, you risk altering its shape.
It is also imperative to check for signs of wear and tear once in a while. Lastly, remember to carry the night guard to your dentist whenever you visit for routine dental checkups.
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