Night guards are mouth guards that you can wear on your teeth while sleeping. They have a variety of benefits from protecting your teeth from grinding to help you with snoring, and they are even helpful for sleep apnea. Depending on your needs, you can either find them at your dentist or over the counter from your nearby drugstore.
Who Should Use Them?
If you regularly wake up with a sore jaw, dull headache, or tooth pain, then you likely suffer from bruxism or teeth grinding. Around 10-15% of the population suffers from bruxism, and if not treated, it can severely damage your teeth and gums. It can lead to premature loss of enamel, fractured teeth, discolouration of teeth, and gum recession. In severe cases, bruxism may even lead to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) that can affect your bite and speech by damaging the joints that support your jaw.
Night guards are especially useful in helping with bruxism. They stop your teeth from damage by acting as a buffer between the top and bottom rows of your teeth. However, this is not a cure for bruxism as it can be caused due to several factors, from medical conditions to mental disorders. Night guards merely minimize the damage caused by the clenching and grinding of your teeth until it is fully cured.
On the other hand, if you tend to snore during the night, then night guards may also come in handy. Snoring generally occurs due to vibrations of the soft tissues in your throat caused by breathing. A night guard can reduce this vibration by pulling your jaw and tongue forward, creating a gap between the tissues by opening up your throat a bit. Night guards for snowing don’t always work, but it is worth a try if you suffer from snoring while sleeping.
Lastly, night guards may also be beneficial for sleep apnea. It is a sleep disorder that can cause you to temporarily stop breathing, increasing the risk of heart diseases and strokes. If you suffer from mild sleep apnea, you can give night guards a try (only after consulting your doctor). The night guard, in this case, works by pushing your lower jaw and tongue forward and opening up the airway. This drastically reduces the chances of airway obstruction in your throat. Do note that mouth guards are not recommended if you suffer from severe sleep apnea.
What are the Types of Night Guards?
If you suffer from any of the ailments mentioned above, you should consider trying out a night guard. They can prevent tooth damage, TMJ dysfunction, provide relief from tension and pain, and reduce headaches. Hence, they can improve the quality of your sleep. But choosing the right one can be confusing, as there are a few types of night guards. Depending on your condition, you should select one of the following.
Stock Night Guards
This is the most common type of night guard that is widely available, and it is also quite affordable. You can find these at most sporting goods stores and drug stores. The issue with these guards is that they only come in small, medium and large sizes. This limited number of sizes makes it difficult to suit the shape of your teeth. Due to this, they are usually uncomfortable and don’t provide a tight fit, and they tend to get dislodged while sleeping. These guards should be left for sporting events, and should not be used for helping you with bruxism, snoring, or sleep apnea.
Boil-and-Bite Night Guards
You can find these in most drug stores, and they are also relatively affordable. They are the best option if you are on a tight budget but want the best fit. These guards are one size that can fit everyone since they are flexible; they require you to soak them in boiling water until they soften up, and then you have to bite on them. Doing so makes them adapt to the shape of your teeth. This type of guard is perfect for bruxism, but for sleep apnea, it may not be the best option since they don’t generally pull your jaw and tongue forward.
Custom-made Night Guards
However, if you want the perfect fit that suits your teeth’s shape, then opting for custom-made night guards is recommended. You have to consult a dentist to get these guards as they first take a mould of your teeth, and then design the guard accordingly. They offer a much better fit, and they are more comfortable and harder to dislodge. This is the perfect option regardless if you want to use them to help you with sleep apnea or bruxism. Do note that these guards cannot replace a CPAP machine if you suffer from sleep apnea, and should only be used as extra help if you experience mild sleep apnea.
How to Care for Night Guards
Once you have your night guards, you must now take care of them. This will not only save you money but also keep them clean of germs and bacteria. First, you must remember to brush and floss your teeth before putting them on at night. Second, you must rinse them with cool water or mouthwash to keep them clean. Avoid using hot water to clean them as it can warp their shape. And it would be best if you stored them in a hard container with some ventilation to allow them to dry. Also, regularly, keep a check on them and look for any signs of damage or holes.
If you think you have any of the symptoms of bruxism, teeth grinding or clenching, or if your partner accuses you of ruining their sleep with your snores, then you can reach out to us for the best solutions. 67th Street Dental Clinic has tremendous experience in helping our patients with their sleeping problems.