Night guards, also known as mouth guards, dental guards, nocturnal bite plates, or bite splints, are used to treat bruxism and sleep apnoea. Night guards act as a barrier between your teeth. When you clench your jaw, the night guard helps to reduce tension and gives cushioning support to the muscles in your jaw. This protects your enamel, prevents face and jaw pain and provides relief from snoring.
Bruxism is the habit of grinding and clenching teeth. This causes jaw pain and is harmful for your teeth. Other symptoms of bruxism include facial pain, headache and lack of sleep. Serious consequences of bruxism may include broken teeth or loss of tooth enamel. Bruxism may be caused by anxiety and stress.
Sleep apnoea is a condition characterized by pauses in breathing during your sleep. It may be accompanied with snoring.
What are the Different Types of Night Guards?
The different types of night guards include:
Soft Night Guards
These type of guards are a common night guard for the treatment of bruxism used for mild or occasional teeth grinding. They are economical, easy to use, and fit comfortably. A disadvantage is a short lifespan as they are not recommended for long-term use.
Hard Night Guards
These are durable and made of rigid acrylic material. They are recommended for severe cases of bruxism.
Advantages include a longer warranty period and prevention of teeth from shifting.
Disadvantages include discomfort during wearing due to their thickness and inflexibility. They may cause difficulty sleeping and can be expensive. They cannot be purchased over the counter as they require customized fitting by a dentist.
Dual-Laminate Night Guards
These kind of night guards are recommended for moderate-intensity teeth grinding. They have a soft interior and hard exterior surface. They can be used long term but they may be thicker than other guards and difficult to use initially until you get used to them.
How to Choose/Select Night Guards?
There are a few tips that can help you to select a proper night guard for your needs.
- Select the thinnest night guard available
- Use it for 4-6 weeks to get used to it
- Wear it before you go to sleep
- Don’t wear it during the day
How to Find the Right/Perfect Fit of Night Guard?
You should visit your dentist to get a personalised fit of your night guard. The different types of night guards, based on size and fit, include:
Standard-size night guard: It can be worn by all and is economical. They are suitable for people who have occasional teeth grinding and are probably the lowest-cost option.
The boil and bite night guard: This night guard is made of thermoplastic material and has to be boiled in water. Then it is cooled down and placed inside your mouth. You have to bite into it to create your own impression. This creates a night guard suited for your needs.
Custom-fitted night guard: This is designed to meet your specific needs and is made in a dental clinic or a professional laboratory based on your dentist's instructions. It is the most comfortable and is relatively expensive compared to the other models.
For more information, visit your dentist or a dental clinic to learn more about the options that are best suited to you.