Mouthguard for teeth grinding

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Ask your dentist if you need a mouthguard for sleeping.

Grinding your teeth while sleeping, or sleep bruxism, is a common dental issue that impacts around 8% of middle aged adults¹. When you grind your teeth it is possible to break or fracture your teeth from the immense pressure, it is also possible to wear down your teeth, making them more susceptible to cavities and decay².

There are many reasons why you may grind your teeth, ranging from stress and mis-aligned teeth to alcohol abuse and coffee consumption³. Depending on why you are grinding your teeth, your dentist may offer a few different options to help you stop grinding your teeth.

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One common temporary solution to teeth grinding is the use of a mouthguard. If your dentist recommends a mouth guard, you typically will have three common options, a stock mouth guard, boil and bite mouthguards, and custom mouth guards.

  • Stock mouth guards – these mouth guards are typically inexpensive and can be bought at any sporting goods store, however, most dentists do not recommend stock mouth guards because they are not made specifically for bruxism, and they are difficult to breath with.

  • Boil and bite mouth guards - with a boil and bite mouth guard you have the option for a higher degree of customization. You simply boil the mouth guard, then put it in your mouth and shape it so it fits comfortably on your teeth. Like stock mouth guards, these can be purchased at most sporting goods stores.

  • Custom mouth guards – a custom mouth guard is designed and created specifically for you and specifically to stop bruxism. These can only be purchase through your dentist’s office and are typically more expensive than the other two options.

Mouth guards are just one step in helping to prevent teeth grinding. If your dentist believes that you are grinding your teeth, they will develop a comprehensive treatment plan designed to stop teeth grinding altogether.

Snoring mouth guard

Mouth guards also can be used to help prevent snoring, which can be a symptom of sleep apnea⁵. Dentists can work with sleep medical professionals to determine if a snoring mouth guard is needed or not and can help determine which type of snoring mouth guard is best for their patient. Snoring mouth guards are not designed to prevent teeth grinding.

Snoring mouth guards differ from regular mouth guards because they are designed to tilt the lower jaw forward, opening the throat wider so that there is less resistance when you breath and less snoring⁶. Snoring mouth guards may be medically necessary and can help improve both sleep quantity and quality in patients. It important to note that some snoring mouth guards require a prescription from a sleep doctor before they can be purchased because they are considered medical treatment devices.

Dental night guards

A dental night guard is a guard that is specifically designed to help protect your teeth from the impact of grinding. Some night guards are designed specifically for bruxism and others may be designed or prescribed after an oral accident. These dental guards are not designed to improve your sleeping or to cure bruxism⁷. Sleep mouth guards are designed specifically to help improve the quality of your sleep and may not prevent tooth damage from grinding as well as a guard designed for bruxism. To find the right night guard for your needs be sure to consult your dentist first.

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Dental night guard for TMJ

One of the common signs of bruxism is a dull or acute pain that occurs at the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. The TMJ is the joint that connects you jaw to the side of your head and allows you to talk, chew, and open and close your mouth⁸. Grinding your teeth at night puts constant pressure on the TMJ and can cause inflammation and pain that you don’t feel until the morning.

If you grind your teeth at night, your dentist may recommend a dental night guard or dental mouthguard to help alleviate pain and reduce damage to your teeth. Custom dental mouth guards that are made of hard resin and designed to ensure that your bite is correctly aligned, are typically a good way to help prevent the pain and side effects associated with the TMJ and teeth grinding. These guards can help prevent pain while chewing, clicking noises, and locking of the jaw joint⁹.

Your typical boil and bite or sports mouth guard may protect your teeth, but they do little else to help improve jaw pain associated with bruxism. This is because they are soft plastic rather than hard resin and they are not designed to ensure a proper bite. So, while these options may be more affordable, they may not be as effective at alleviated pain¹⁰.

Sports and custom mouth guards

A dentist may prescribe other types of mouth guards for sports, such as ice hockey or football, or to treat other dental symptoms such as snoring or different bite issues. Each of these mouth guards has a different purpose and may be formulated and molded in a different way. These mouth guards are not typically interchangeable, meaning you should not wear a sports specific mouth guard to stop teeth grinding, unless advised by a dentist.

Like, dental night guards, sports mouth guards come with the same three common options, stock, boil and bite, and custom. The stock and boil and bite option are largely used the same way in sports as they are during nighttime bruxism protection. However, if you are prescribed a custom mouth guard for sports your dentist will create the mouth guard with maximum protection in mind. Some custom sports mouth guards may help prevent concussions¹¹.

What is a bite plate?

A bite plate is a specific type of dental appliance that can serve many purposes. It is a small piece of acrylic that is formed to fit on the roof of your mouth, and it prevents the top teeth from coming in contact with the bottom teeth¹². This physical barrier doesn’t allow the teeth to grind together while it is in, which can help protect your teeth from damage.

A bite plate can also be used to help prevent teeth from overlapping in orthodontics. This is especially true for patients with braces who may damage braces on the bottom teeth if their bite overlaps too much¹³. Although bite plates made for bruxism and in orthodontics have different purposes, they are made and fitted the same way. However, under the advice from your dentist, when used with braces you may need to keep the plate in at all times, whereas you may only need to wear it at night to treat bruxism.

Dental mouthguards and dental insurance

Dental mouth guards have a wide range of costs depending on your needs. If purchasing an over-the-counter boil and bite guard you may only spend around $15-$30, however, if you need a TMJ specific night guard you may spend over $700. This is a reflection of the expertise and labor that go into the more highly customized mouth guards¹⁴. However, although expensive, custom mouth guards are less likely to damage your teeth and are more likely to help improve and alleviate jaw pain.

Although expensive, your mouthguard may be covered either by health insurance or dental insurance, depending on your specific situation. If your dentist has recommended a night guard it is important that you see if your dental insurance will cover it before making a final decision. They may be able to recommend alternative options to help treat your bruxism if you are unable to afford a dental mouth guard and it isn’t covered by insurance.

Find a dental guard & related insights

Finding a dental guard is as simple as setting up an appointment with your dentist. Your dental professional will be able to determine if you need a night guard and they will typically be able to get you set up and fitted with a custom mouth guard right in their office.

Before buying a dental mouth guard, or any other dental appliance, it can be beneficial to do some research so that you know what questions to ask and what to expect as you go through the process. This is why Guardian Direct® has resources available on our website that can help you do research so that you can make an informed decision for you and your family.


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