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!