If you’re grinding teeth in your sleep, you may want to use a night mouth guard. Not only can a night guard minimize damage to the enamel surface of your teeth caused by grinding, but the right one may also decrease any pain and muscle tension you’ve been experiencing.
But… all mouth guards and dental splints are not created equal.
While night mouth guards may protect your teeth, they do not always resolve the underlying problem. You may still wake up in the morning with a sore jaw or headache as you’re still clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth at night! Plus some guards may make your symptoms worse, not better!
Types of Mouth Guards
1. Do-It-Yourself Mouth Guards
Most night guards are horse-shoe shaped and fit over all of the top or bottom teeth. Over the counter models require that you to mold them yourself, which can lead to poor fitting guards.
To mold the guard you place it in a pot of boiling water (for the suggested amount of time), quickly dip it in cold water, and then place it in your mouth. Once the guard is in your mouth you have to quickly mold the guard before it hardens. You do this by biting down on the guard and using your fingers to mold the front and a combination of your tongue and a sucking motion to mold the back. You want the guard to be snug so it stays on your teeth while you’re sleeping.
2. Dentist Made Splints and Guards
Those made at the dentist office are usually created using a cast impression of your teeth. The mold is then sent to a lab where the mouth guard is made. But even those may not be fitted properly if the dentist has little experience or training in that area.
A second group of dentist customized guards, such as the NTI, fit over the top front teeth. They are molded at the dentist office so they fit snugly, especially since they only cover the two front teeth. They can relieve tension headaches as the amount of clenching is decreased. (To read about my experience with this guard sign-up for the ecourse on the top right of this page.)
Dentists can also make custom bite splints that reposition your jaw joint back into the correct position by retraining the muscles of the jaw.
Cost-wise, the over the counter do-it-yourself guards are less expensive than the custom ones made at the dental office.
Other Factors to Consider
When choosing a night mouth guard, make sure it:
- is made of a durable material that resists tearing and breaking.
- is easy to clean.
- doesn’t block or impact your breathing.
- is comfortable and doesn’t irritate your gums.
If you’re thinking about buying a night mouthguard or if you already have one but are still waking up with tight jaw muscles or pain, (as some mouthguards only relief pain over the short-term) check out “The Truth About TMJ” by Dr. Spainhower.
His ebook/audio and video package includes 5 videos reviewing some popular mouthguards and their potential to relief pain long-term for those with bruxism, TMJ, or for those with clicking and popping. One night mouth guard may help those experiencing one set of symptoms but not another!