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Should I wear a nightguard? If so, what kind?

August 31st, 2021

Clenching or teeth grinding is very common among children and adults. Some individuals may not even be aware they grind their teeth, but, if it gets to the point that you awake with a headache, tooth, jaw or facial pain or damage to your teeth, it is time to speak with your dentist about bruxism.

Fortunately, for those in the latter group who experience severe and chronic bruxism, wearing a night guard is a readily available treatment.

How does a night guard work?

Night guards for teeth are also known as dental guards, nocturnal bite plates, mouth guards or bite splints. They act as a barrier between your upper and lower teeth. When you clench your jaw, the night guard helps lighten the tension and give cushion to jaw muscles. The cushioning helps prevent face and jaw pain and, it protects tooth enamel.


Types of Night Guards

There are several types of night guards available. Some can be purchased over-the-counter without a prescription or straight from the dentist. There are a few different ways they can be fitted, and the type that will work best for you depends on your individual needs. The following chart describes several types of nightguards and who they are best suited for, lists their pros and cons and outlines how they are fitted.




Pros Cons

How to Fit


(very pliable)

Mild or occasional bruxism

Not for severe teeth grinders

  •  Most comfortable fit of all the night guards
  • Most adaptable/ easy to get used to
  • Usually lower cost
  • Some people unintentionally clench on to or chew the soft material
  • Not as durable/limited lifespan
  • Most warranties are only 6 months or less due to limited life-span
  • Not a long-term solution
  • One-size-fits-all / not custom fitted


Dual Laminate

(hard on outside, soft on inside)

Moderate to severe teeth grinders

  • Handles heavy clenching and grinding
  • Longer lasting
  • Usually offers a longer warranty than soft guards
  • Tend to be a little thicker than other guards
  • Seem to be harder to adjust to
  • Boil and bite / boil in water and bite into it to leave your own dental impression.


(acrylic, extremely rigid)

Severe teeth grinders

  • Most durable
  • Prevents teeth from shifting
  • Usually offers the longest warranty
  • Thicker than soft night guards
  • More uncomfortable than others
  • Difficult to get used to
  • Needs to be ordered directly through dentist
  • Can be more expensive than the others
  • Made in lab / fully customized fit as dentist makes an impression of your teeth which is sent to a lab where the night guard is made



Adjusting to your night guard 

  • Choose the thinnest possible guard suitable for you.
  • Stick with it for at least 4-6 weeks and make a habit out of wearing it. After this amount of time, it should feel like a normal part of your routine and will seem a lot easier to wear.
  • Put it in right before you go to sleep. Don’t try to wear it before you’re ready to go to bed, otherwise it will just feel obnoxious.


Caring for your night guard

  • Wash your guard before and after each use. It can be rinsed with clean, cold water or brushed with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Don’t wash the night guard with hot water or leave it in a sunny spot or hot area as the plastic could warp and no longer fit you properly.
  • Store your night guard in a container
  • If your guard feels loose or uncomfortable, it is likely time to replace it.




American Sleep Association

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