What is a Night Guard?
A night guard is a removable device that is worn on either the top or bottom teeth while sleeping. The device is retainer-like and typically made with plastic or acrylic material. A night guard serves to prevent the teeth from grinding or the jaw from clenching at night. Over-the-counter night guards are typically cheaper and easily accessible for the user. On the other hand, custom night guards are form-fitted devices created with the help of a dentist. They are higher in price but worth considering in terms of value, quality, and durability.
You may need a night guard if you grind your teeth while sleeping, or wake up with jaw or neck pain. Most people who suffer from teeth grinding in their sleep are not even aware they do this until someone else calls attention to it. Some may not know they already have severe tooth damage until a dentist points it out. One of the first signs is waking with pain or having difficulty chewing some foods in the morning.
Over-the-Counter Night Guards
Although some benefits can arise from the use of over-the-counter night guards, many times, the use of these types of guards does little to protect a user from the long-term effects of teeth grinding at night. Once used primarily by athletes to protect themselves from tooth damage during the course of physical activity, many are becoming more aware of their lackluster protection. Over-the-counter night guards are not custom fit and lack the material construction to be considered viable for long-term use. It is almost impossible to adjust and precisely fit one’s unique bite.
Many consumers may consider the “boil method” to be a form of custom fitting. However, it is not as it is a poor substitute for a professional fitting performed by a dentist. The boiling water method involves a store-bought oral plate made malleable by placing the piece in hot water and then biting into it to create a shape that fits the user’s tooth alignment. Being their lack of personalized design, over-the-counter night guards also tend to be less comfortable than custom ones, leading to additional problems if used over a lengthy period of time. Ill-fitting night guards can ultimately result in more pain and disorders from years of misalignment and cause the jaw to shift over time.
Another option of over-the-counter night guards is one-size-fits-all. As mentioned above, every bite is unique, so it is beyond unlikely a one-size-fits-all option will truly fit. Similarly to using a night guard that requires the boil method, jaw misalignment and shifting are to be expected. Because it is not even molded to the shape of your bite, adverse effects should be anticipated to occur even sooner than a boil-method-guard.
In short, over-the-counter night guards serve as quick solutions but do not address the cause. By not addressing the cause and putting a bandaid over the situation, the potential for adverse risk down the line is increased. As the bite is incredibly complex and unique to each person, the likelihood of a thin piece of plastic fixing the problem is low. They are often a cheap alternative to custom night guards because they are cheap. However, this is because they are made from cheap materials. What’s worse is that by using an over-the-counter night guard, many are prevented from seeking actual treatment.
Custom Night Guards
Custom night guards are the best solution for nightly problems, such as teeth clenching or grinding as they are more effective in their design and are made with high-quality, formidable materials. Dentists may refer to a mouth guard, nocturnal bite plate, bite splint, oral appliance, occlusal guard, or dental guard. Custom night guards are specifically designed to fit the user’s mouth. Molds are taken to the dentist’s office and sent to a professional dental lab where the guard is made from high-quality materials proven to last a very long time. This high level of customization even allows the dental lab to control the thickness of the guard, depending on the level of grinding that is done by the patient.
The materials used in the production of a custom night guard are generally made from high-grade thermoplastic. This type of construction provides for a finished product that will typically last several years before needing to be replaced. That said, custom night guards for children will need to be changed more regularly due to the changing nature of a child’s mouth
Advantages of Custom Night Guards
There are many benefits to using a custom night guard while sleeping. As previously mentioned, teeth grinding is a common problem for many individuals. It is estimated that sleep bruxism occurs in 5 to 8 percent of adults. Approximately 50 percent of children suffer from the condition. However, it usually dissipates as they age. Some grinding can be so severe that it can permanently damage the teeth and jaw structure unless preventative measures are taken. The habitual grinding of teeth or Bruxism can cause significant damage to tooth enamel and cause temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJ. This is a condition that affects the jaw joints and surrounding muscles, tissues, and ligaments. Teeth grinding has also been linked to increased headaches and sleeping disorders.
Using a custom night guard stops bruxism and the resulting tooth and jaw damage caused by it. When a patient uses a properly fitted custom night guard while sleeping, they reduce pressure within the mouth leading to a noticeable reduction in grinding-related injuries. Custom night guards also reduce tension within the mouth which may induce better sleeping patterns in a patient. Traditionally, custom mouth guards have been primarily made for the upper jaw and teeth, yet lower mouth guards can also be used to alleviate certain patient issues.
Custom night guards that have been molded to fit a patient’s mouth can protect against the damage caused by bruxism. Through professional fitting done with a dentist and dental lab, patients can enjoy a better night’s sleep, knowing that their custom night guard has stopped habitual teeth grinding.
Protect Your Patients with Custom Night Guards from The Dental Lab
The Dental Lab is one of the leading dental labs in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. With over 35 years of experience, The Dental Lab is a developer and manufacturer of high-quality dental products for dental offices and professionals and has provided the dental profession with quality products and excellent customer service. As a premier provider of dental lab services, our team understands the complexities of manufacturing custom dental products for our professional clients. Our products include implants, removals, and more. Feel free to contact us for more information about our services.
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Nighttime Teeth Grinding in Children (Bruxism)
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Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders
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Angel Chang is a Drexel University graduate with a background in Marketing. She has experience with digital analytics, SEO, social media management, content creation, copywriting, and web development.