Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, affects millions of people every year. In some cases, teeth grinding can cause people to experience headaches and soreness in the jaw or face. Teeth grinding can also cause a person’s teeth to break or destroy the enamel on their teeth. In severe cases, bruxism can even cause tooth loss. The good news is that mouthguards worn at night can help treat bruxism and protect your teeth.
What Is a Mouthguard and How Does It Work?
A mouthguard is an oral device that you wear over your teeth while you sleep at night. This guard protects your teeth by working as a barrier between your upper and lower teeth. As your jaw clenches at night, the mouthguard will force this tightening to loosen up to prevent grinding. This device helps to protect your teeth by preventing the teeth to grind together during the night and it can reduce facial and jaw pain by stopping your jaw from clenching while you sleep.
Types of Mouthguards
You don’t need a prescription to purchase a mouthguard. They are available over the counter or you can request one from your dentist. According to the American Sleep Association, there are three main types of mouthguards.
1. Soft Mouthguard
As the name suggests, soft mouthguards are soft and flexible. Many people find this the most comfortable mouthguard to use. However, it’s not always effective for severe cases of teeth grinding. In addition, this type of mouthguard is not as durable as some other options, so you may need to purchase a new one every few months.
2. Hard Mouthguard
A hard mouthguard is made from acrylic and it’s not flexible. This type of mouthguard must be ordered from the dentist and is made using an impression of your teeth. This style of nightguard is ideal for those who suffer from severe teeth grinding. While it can take some time to get used to wearing a hard mouthguard, it is very durable and will last longer than other types.
3. Dual Laminate Mouthguard
The dual laminate mouthguard is a mixture between the hard and soft style. It has a hard exterior and a soft interior. This type of nightguard is ideal for those who suffer from moderate teeth grinding.
Ordering Your Mouthguard
There are several ways mouthguards adjust to your teeth.
- Non-Molded Mouthguard – You can purchase this type of mouthguard over the counter and use it instantly without any molding or preparation.
Boil and Bite Mouthguard
- Boil and Bite Mouthguard – This mouthguard can be purchased at the store, but you will need to boil it and then place it in your mouth and bite down to make an impression before using it.
- Customized Mouthguard – You can order a customized mouthguard online, but you will be required to send the company an impression of your teeth so they can make you a customized nightguard.
- Laboratory-Made Mouthguard – When you order a mouthguard through your dentist, he will start by taking an impression of your teeth and then sending it to the laboratory to be made.
Using a mouthguard can significantly reduce the effects of teeth grinding and protect your teeth from damage. It’s important to only use your mouthguard at nighttime and to place it in your mouth just before you are ready to go to sleep. Keep in mind that it could take up to four to six weeks to get used to using a mouthguard.
Dr. Michelle Anderson is a pediatric dentist board certified by the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry.