Known for both their protection and prevention, night guards provide numerous health benefits when it comes to your dental and overall health. It’s important to understand the purpose of night guards and why you may need one.
What is a Night Guard?
A night guard is a type of dental guard to provide protection for your teeth. Other types of dental guards include mouth guards and bite splints. Night guards are mouthpieces designed specifically for you and your teeth to wear at night to protect from grinding and potential damage that can happen while you sleep. Wearing a night guard can be crucial to providing comfort and protection to your oral health, while preventing other dental issues from occurring.
Soft vs. Hard Night Guards
Soft night guards and hard night guards are popular options for those seeking a night guard. The main difference between the two comes down to the material they’re made from and how much of a barrier an individual requires to feel relief. A soft night guard is made of a softer, flexible rubber material, preferred by those with more mild grinding and clenching of the teeth. Hard night guards are made of a harder acrylic that is not as flexible and is used for those with more severe clenching and grinding.
When to Get a Night Guard
Possible signs of grinding and clenching your teeth at night, or other mouth and jaw-related issues such as TMJ, include frequently waking up with headaches and tooth and jaw pain or seeing visible signs of tooth wear. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be time to consult your dentist about seeking more information on night guards and if it will benefit you.
Benefits of using a Night Guard
Night guards are great solutions to the pain caused by clenching and grinding during your sleep. Anyone can begin to have issues related to grinding and clenching in their sleep, especially those under a lot of stress. Night guards are made to fit both children and adults and are highly recommended after experiencing signs of grinding and clenching.
To stop the clenching and grinding of teeth that happens at night, night guards provide a protective layer between your upper and lower teeth. This stops the negative effects of grinding and clenching which include tooth sensitivity, chronic pain in the neck and ears, and migraines. Prolonged grinding can lead to severe problems, such as fracturing your teeth, wearing down your enamel, and damaging your jaw. Using a night guard decreases the current pain, and prevents more of it, so your dental and overall health can be at its best.
Customized Night Guards
Customized night guards are provided by your dentist for ultimate comfort and protection. These night guards are custom-made for your set of teeth by taking an impression of your teeth and sending a mold to a dental laboratory. The result is a customized night guard that is designed to be worn specifically for you. At MCDC, we care about working with your smile and your best options. Read more about the services we provide for customized night guards.
How Night Guards Help Relieve TMJ
TMJ disorder, also known as a temporomandibular joint disorder, deals specifically with the lower joint that connects to your mouth and can compromise movement in this area. This can cause pain and discomfort with day-to-day needs such as talking and eating and additional pain within the face and jaw.
Night guards can help prevent and alleviate symptoms of TMJ by providing a protective layer to alleviate issues within the jaw and face. In most cases, a bite splint will often be recommended, which acts similarly to a night guard, but also guides the movement of the jaw to land in a better, more comfortable position.
If you are concerned about having TMJ, or have been diagnosed with TMJ, a night guard can be a great step to improve your health. Making an appointment and talking to your dentist to discuss what dental guard will be right for you will help you prepare and provide you with a professional examination to make the right next step in your dental care journey.
Cleaning a Night Guard
After receiving your night guard, it’s important to learn how to properly clean it so you can ensure your dental hygiene is at its peak.
Brushing your teeth before the application of your night guard, and after taking it out helps eliminate bacteria that could get trapped. To clean your mouthguard effectively, regularly scrub the dental guard in cool, soapy water and rinse. Be sure to store your dental guard in a container with vents so that it can dry thoroughly and prevent bacteria.
It’s important to remember that you can bring your dental guard with you to your regular dental checkups for an evaluation and professional cleaning.
When to Replace a Night Guard
If your night guard has shown signs of damage and is not fitting as it should, scheduling an appointment with your dentist and replacing your night guard as soon as possible is the best course of action.
Children’s and teens’ mouths are still growing and changing, so they may need to change and replace their dental guards more often. Bringing dental guards for regular appointments can help keep track of the effectiveness of your dental guard, and whether or not a new one is needed.
Night guards can be your solution to the pain that grinding and clenching can cause you during your day-to-day life. Night guards not only benefit your dental health, but also your overall health by stopping the pain, and preventing more severe dental issues down the line. Schedule an appointment now to look into all of your dental guard options, and see which one is right for you.