Night guards are retainer-like appliances that help to address teeth grinding or clenching. They cover the biting surfaces and can be worn on either the top or bottom set of teeth. They can be made to be hard or soft–depending on the severity of grinding or clenching.
Night guards have many names, including dental guard, nocturnal bite plate, bite splint, oral appliance, occlusal guard, mouth guard, and bite guard. They ultimately help to reduce the adverse effects of bruxism and serve as a cushion in between the upper and lower sets of teeth. Dentists will always recommend a custom-designed night guard to preserve the overall oral health. However, an over-the-counter night guard may be suggested as a cost-effective temporary treatment.
Custom Night Guards
Custom night guards are the best solution for clenching or grinding as they are effective in their design and are made with high-quality, formidable materials. These are specifically designed to fit the user’s mouth and individual bite. Impressions are taken at the dentist’s office and sent to a professional lab where the guard is made. The plastic-like medium has been 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.
For lighter clenchers, the dentist might recommend a soft night guard. They are rubbery and flexible. For more severe cases, a hard night guard may be suggested. They are firmer and are designed to combat extreme grinding and damage to the enamel. Another option available is a hybrid night guard, which is a combination of soft and hard. The inside is rubbery for comfort, while the outside is hard for damage-control.
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.
Over-the-Counter Night Guards
Over-the-counter night guards are a convenient temporary treatment for grinding and clenching at night. They are available online and in local drug stores.
There are two types of over-the-counter night guards: moldable boil-and-bite and one-size-fits-all. Boil-and-bite is a moldable night guard that requires being boiled in water before being placed in the mouth. The patient then bites down to form a fitting mold. One-size-fits-all guards are designed to have a standard fit straight out of the box. They simply slide over the teeth and pose as a barrier between the surfaces.
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. An over-the-counter guard will never be as stable as a dental-designed night guard. 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 and secure
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. According to the British Dental Journal, night guards that are purchased online have a positive correlation to tissue damage and unwanted teeth movement.
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 band-aid 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.
Dental Lab Near Me
Looking for a dental laboratory near me? The Dental Lab offers expedited shipping so that our products can be delivered directly to you in just days. No matter where you are, we are a local dental lab near you.
The Dental Lab makes soft, hard, and hard/soft hybrid custom night guards. We ensure that patients receive the safest, most accurate fit by individualizing the treatment plan to the patient’s needs. Contact us today to get started on your custom night guard case. Visit our product pages for a larger scope of our restorative dental services.
Over-the-counter (OTC) bruxism splints available on the Internet
Dentist Night Guard vs. Over-The-Counter
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