If you have never complained of painful jaws or severe headaches, but lately, you just can’t seem to get rid of such problems, you could have a condition called bruxism. Bruxism is a condition in which you grind, clench, or gnash your teeth. Suppose you do so when awake, it is referred to as awake bruxism, while sleep bruxism is for patients who clench or grind their teeth in their sleep. One of the main causes of bruxism is stress. Consequently, teeth grinding and clenching are becoming common in the United States, Israel, and Poland.

According to a study conducted in Israel and Poland, day-time teeth clenching has increased from 17% to 32%, while night teeth clenching has gone from 10% to 36% since the pandemic began.  Usually, when it happens at night, you are unconscious; therefore, the effects such as headaches can be hard to point to bruxism.  Unfortunately, there is no known cure for bruxism. Although it can be challenging to stop the underlying causes of teeth grinding and clenching, you can get rid of bruxism’s negative effects by wearing a night guard.

Importance of Getting the Right Night Guard

Prevent Plaque Development

Despite the similarity in names, you should not confuse a sports mouth guard with the one designed for preventing teeth grinding and clenching. A sports mouth guard will do more harm than good. It covers the teeth and gums as it is meant to protect them from blunt force trauma. If worn at night, it traps bacteria on the gum’s surface while you sleep since saliva can’t get to the gums while wearing a sports mouth guard.

Saliva helps to neutralize acids that can cause cavities and washes away food particles hence preventing plaque development. Therefore, it is best to consult an oral hygiene professional when looking for a nightguard to avoid damaging your teeth. It is important to note that some nightguards come with holes to allow saliva to access your teeth. Thus, a dentist will provide you with the right design depending on the condition of your teeth.

Prevent Changing Your Bite

A nightguard is usually fitted precisely to your teeth and bite because its aim is to protect the surfaces from grinding against each other. Since sports mouthguards are soft and made of a thicker rubbery material they are not designed to fit your bite. Softer material will cause you to chew while sleeping as the brain interprets it to be food. This may cause muscle discomfort and mat prematurely wear through the soft material. If you choose to wear a sports mouthguard at night, it would cause your bite to shift with time. The effect would manifest itself after a while when your bite changes.

Types of Nightguards

The American Sleep Association classifies nightguards depending on the materials from which they are made:

Hard Nightguards

These are made from acrylic and are used to treat TMJ and severe teeth grinding and clenching cases. As the muscles relax, the bite changes due to the lower jaw positioning itself in a healthy centric position. Adjustments to the bite on the guard will help your muscles and jaw relax.Since hard nightguards are made from a firm material, they are the most durable type.

Nightguards can also be classified as:

Over-the-counter

Drug stores have over-the-counter nightguards that are one-size-fits-all; they are pre-molded to fit any mouth. They also have the option of boil-and-bite nightguards, which have to be softened in hot water for a better fit. Unfortunately, long-term use of such devices causes your bite to shift as they have not been made specifically for the shape of your teeth.

Custom-made

These offer a personalized solution since they are made using the impression of your teeth.  A dentist uses professional materials and techniques to come up with a nightguard just for you hence are more comfortable. With the proper care and adjustments, these are durable enough to last for several years.

What to Consider When Choosing Between a Lower or Upper Nightguard

Since a nightguard can be worn on either the top or bottom set of teeth, you might wonder which is best for you for maximum protection against grinding. Some of the factors you should consider when making that decision are:

Comfort

An uncomfortable nightguard will likely not go in your mouth as you dread wearing it; hence it will not benefit you. Remember that you will be spending the night with a device in the mouth; hence comfort should be top of your list. If you grind your teeth subconsciously during the day, you should go for a lower mouthguard. It is less visible, and you most probably don’t want to attract attention. Also, if you have a sensitive gag reflex, a lower nightguard is suitable.

However, an upper nightguard is usually more intrusive because it is bigger and bulkier than the lower nightguard.

Teeth Condition

The condition of your teeth should play a part in helping you decide the ideal nightguard. Since a custom-made nightguard is made from your teeth impression, you should choose the set that does not have too many teeth missing or crooked. That way, you will have a better fit.

To learn more about night guards, contact us. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Zorro today-Come in today so we can assess your teeth and help you get ahead of your oral care. Also ask us about our teeth whitening services!