Bruxism, also called night grinding, affects as many as 20% of the population. A mouth guard for teeth grinding can help to lessen the symptoms and effects of bruxism, including a sore jaw, neck, headaches, and even damaged teeth. To choose the best mouth guard for teeth grinding, it helps to understand the condition and the different types of mouth guards available.
What is Nighttime Teeth Grinding?
To choose the best mouth guard for teeth grinding, it’s helpful to understand what bruxism is and where it comes from. Night grinding is usually the result of stress. It causes you to grind your teeth together while you sleep. Many people don’t notice they’re doing it. You might wake up in the morning or even in the middle of the night with a sore jaw, neck or a headache. Some people that have night bruxism also have awake bruxism, or may only have awake bruxism. The effects are much the same, and you may not notice it even when you’re awake.
Long-term, the best solution for bruxism is to find and resolve the source of your stress. Therapy can help with this, as well as some anti-anxiety medication. However, if these are not options for you, or the source of your stress will simply resolve itself in time, a mouth guard or night guard for teeth grinding can improve symptoms and effects of bruxism.
Can Night Grinding Damage My Teeth?
It may seem like your teeth are too tough to be affected by night grinding, but night grinding can cause long-term damage to your teeth over time. Relative to weight, your jaw muscle (masseter) is the strongest muscle in your body, and it can exert up to 200 lbs of force on your teeth. That’s a lot of force pushing on your teeth, night after night. The friction caused by rubbing teeth back and forth together also causes damage. Using a night guard for teeth grinding can help to prevent these problems.
Night grinding can cause the following problems with your teeth:
- Wearing down tooth enamel
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
How to Choose the Best Mouth Guard for Teeth Grinding
Mouth guards will protect your teeth while playing sports and they are also used with some teeth whitening products. If you have bruxism, a mouth guard will also help to protect your teeth from damage while you sleep. Choosing the right mouth guard for teeth grinding will depend on your budget, your teeth, and the severity of your teeth grinding problem. Here are a few options to consider.
If you periodically have night grinding problems, but it isn’t a regular issue, a one-size-fits-all mouth guard may be the ideal solution. When you start to feel stressed and you notice your jaw and neck muscles are sore when you wake up, pick up a one-size-fits-all mouth guard from the drugstore. These types of mouth guards can work for intermittent teeth grinding, but they won’t be a good solution to an ongoing problem. These mouth guards will protect your teeth, but they won’t support your jaw, so you might still wake up with soreness in your neck or jaw. Over time, this can lead to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
- Very inexpensive
- Easy to use and obtain
- Comes with several mouth guards in one package
- Not a snug fit
- Not ideal for intense or long-term night grinding problems
- Not very sturdy
- No support for jaw
Boil and Bite
A boil and bite mouth guard is another popular mouth guard for night grinding. These are slightly more expensive, but they will last longer and they fit better. A boil and bite mouth guard will also require a bit more preparation before use. This type of mouth guard softens with heat, using either hot water or a microwave. Then, when you bite down on it, the material conforms to the shape of your teeth. Then, you’ll need to cut off the extra material to get the right shape. These mouth guards will give your teeth better protection than one-size-fits-all mouth guards and they will last longer, but they won’t support your jaw, so you may still feel soreness in your jaw when you wake up.
- Snug fit
- Requires preparation
- No support for jaw
Fitted by Your Dentist
If you are suffering from long-term and intense night grinding, or other mouth guards haven’t worked for you, a specially fitted mouth guard may be your best option. Your dentist will take a mold of your teeth and create a mouth guard especially for you. This type of mouth guard for night grinding will fit best, but it is also the most expensive option. This mouth guard will also last for years, so if you are not sure how to resolve the source of the stress causing your night grinding, this type of mouth guard will give you the most relief. These mouth guards will also support your jaw and help to prevent TMJ disorders.
- Very sturdy
- Perfect fit
- Supports your jaw
- More expensive
- Requires dental visit
How to Care For Your Mouth Guard
Whatever mouth guard you choose for your night grinding, it is important to practice good hygiene. Just as bacteria can hide and accumulate in your teeth if you don’t clean them, bacteria can also build up in your mouth guard. If you clean your mouth guard and your teeth regularly, you can prevent tooth decay.
To prevent bacteria from building up:
- Clean your mouth guard with soap and water daily
- Brush and floss your teeth at night before putting your mouth guard in
- Brush your teeth in the morning when you take your mouth guard out
Discuss your night grinding or daytime grinding problem with your dentist. This disorder can have negative consequences for your teeth and jaw muscles if continues long-term. Your dentist can recommend long-term solutions and other remedies which can help.
If you are near Las Vegas, Henderson or Laughlin, Nevada, or Lake Havasu, Arizona, call us at (702) 388-8888 or schedule an appointment with Boston Dental Group. We accept most insurance plans, and can provide the financing you need for a specially fitted mouth guard or other remedies for night grinding.