Choosing a Night Guard: The Best Night Guard for Grinding Teeth

It’s easy to take things for granted until they’re gone – your teeth high among the list! While tooth enamel may be the hardest material in your body (even harder than bone!) grinding your teeth in the night, or sleep bruxism, can wear this down. Additionally, it can cause headaches, jaw and facial pain, and even affect your temporomandibular joints (TMJs). Once damage has been done to your teeth, it is almost impossible to repair the damage – for this reason, they should be protected at all costs.

Doctors don’t know what it is exactly that causes grinding teeth, but most understand that when bruxism is severe, getting a night guard is an easy way to prevent lasting damage. But what is the best night guard for you?

Soft, hard, hybrid – there are plenty of models out there, but what one is right for you? In this blog post, we explore the three common types of night guards to help you determine for yourself which is the right fit.

The Three Main Types of Night Guards

When treating bruxism, it may be tempting to simply purchase the cheapest night guard that you find. But remember, there’s more to night guards than just cost.

People who use night guards tend to use them every single night, not just as an occasional remedy to jaw pain. You need to consider comfort, durability, and the severity of your bruxism when selecting a night guard.

There are three primary night guards on the market for bruxism. Those are:

Soft Night Guard

If your teeth grinding is mild, a soft night guard may be the right fit for you. These night guards are designed with comfort first – their soft material is easy to bite on, and will provide immediate relief. However, their pliability also makes them wear out easily, and they tend to last no longer than a year at most.

Hard Night Guard

For severe cases of bruxism, hard night guards are a must-have. Their material makes them very durable, and can last up to five years before needing replacement. While it may be more comfortable than grinding your teeth, hard night guards are also somewhat uncomfortable

Hybrid Night Guard

A hybrid night guard, or a dual-laminate night guard, combines features from both soft and hard night guards to create an optimal experience while maintaining durability. The interior, tooth-facing portion of the nightguard is soft, while the exterior is hard to prevent wear and tear. Though they might not last quite as long as a hard night guard, they are significantly more comfortable to wear in the mouth, and can last up to three years.

Over the Counter, or Custom-Fit?

Any local pharmacy should have night guards available for purchase over the counter. But are these the right option for you?

Sure, these models tend to be much cheaper in the short term, but they also tend to be made of poorer-quality materials and can fall out of your mouth as they are not molded around your teeth. For more severe cases of bruxism, these models can wear out in as little as a month. They also tend to be bulkier, and can sit uncomfortably, making sleep more difficult for those who aren’t used to night guards.

Custom-fit night guards are designed with durability and longevity in mind. While it is advised that you change out your night guard every couple of months to keep them hygienic, the easiest way to determine whether you need a new night guard is when you begin to see cracks, tears, warping, or simply when it no longer fits your mouth correctly.

Which Night Guard is Right for Me?

While there are plenty of night guards on the market, the best place to start when considering what kind of night guard to get is to consider the severity of your bruxism. If you are only grinding your teeth lightly, a soft model might be the right approach for you, but extreme tooth-grinders may want to consider a harder model. The hybrid model is a good option for either case – while severe bruxism may shorten their lifespan, they incorporate the best of both worlds.

If cost is on your mind, you don’t need to book a dentist appointment to get a night guard customized for your mouth. Dental Lab Direct provides an easy, at-home solution that cuts out the middle man and delivers night guards directly to you. Request an impression, take a model of your mouth at home, send in the results, and within two to three weeks a night guard will arrive on your doorstep.

Contact us today to learn more about our services!

How to Clean Your Night Guard

Just as you should brush your teeth twice a day and floss, a clean night guard should also be incorporated into your daily dental hygiene habits. Cleaning your night guard will help keep stains and discoloration away – failing to do so can make it a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Regular cleaning will also help improve its longevity, meaning less replacements will be necessary over time. Thankfully, cleaning a night guard is a fairly simple process.

In this blog, we’ll explain every step in cleaning your night guard. Although it may add a few steps to your morning routine, cleaning your night guard is crucial for your dental health. Best of all, it rarely takes more than a few minutes.

When Should I Clean My Night Guard?

Cleaning your night guard should be a daily practice. You should clean your nightguard first thing in the morning the moment you take it off. If you wait to clean the guard in the afternoon or before bedtime, bacteria will have time to grow over the course of the day from saliva left over in the mouthguard. Delaying cleaning the mouthguard makes it more difficult to remove the residual waste left over, making it more difficult to clean and leading to discoloration.

How Should I Clean My Nightguard?

As soon as you take off your nightguard, rinse it with warm water to remove any debris or plaque that may have stuck to its surface. Afterwards, lightly brush the surface with a toothbrush. While some people prefer to apply toothpaste to the nightguard before brushing, this can wear out the nightguard due to abrasive materials like baking soda being present in toothpaste.

Deep cleaning should be done at least once per week. There are several methods for doing this. Denture cleaner can be added into a glass with the nightguard – once the cleaner has completely dissolved, remove the nightguard and dry it off. Another method using supplies that are likely already in your home is to use a mix of distilled white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. The night guard will need to stay in the vinegar for 30 minutes, be rinsed, and placed in the hydrogen peroxide for another 30 minutes. After rinsing, let the night guard dry completely.

During a deep clean, make sure not to leave the nightguard in any fluid for longer than an hour. Doing so can damage the surface, expediting the need for a replacement in the future.

Keep Your Night Guard Dry and Protected

Once you’ve cleaned your night guard, allow it to dry completely before storing it in your case. Although it might be tempting to leave it on the sink counter while you take a morning shower, the humid environment of a bathroom can cause the nightguard to warp. Once it has dried, keep it sealed in its case. This will prevent bacteria from growing on the surface after you have cleaned it.

Clean Your Night Guard’s Case

Aside from cleaning your nightguard regularly, you should also continually clean the case in which you keep it.

A night guard’s case provides the night guard with a stable environment that doesn’t expose it to contaminants that might settle on it throughout the day. With this in mind, it is still crucial to keep that environment clean as well. However, cleaning your night guard case doesn’t require the same intensive steps required in cleaning the night guard itself, and is best done with every weekly deep-clean.

To clean your case, simply use generic dish wash soap, wash it out, and let it dry. Like your night guard, cases should also be replaced.


Night guards are a great way to prevent grinding teeth in the night, but if not properly sanitized, can easily damage your teeth through the buildup of harmful bacteria. Like any product that promotes dental health, nightguards should be replaced on a semi-regular basis, but by taking good care of them, they will last longer.

Need a replacement for your night guards? Dental Lab Direct can help you out. We skip the middle man and send the savings directly to you – take an impression, send it to us, and within 2-3 weeks, you will receive a night guard custom fitted to your mouth. Contact us today to learn more about our services!