It’s frustrating to spend your nights grinding your teeth together – you awaken with a sore jaw, a headache, and damaged teeth.
Recently I wrote an article about Bruxism (the act of grinding and clenching your teeth). I described how damaging it could be to both your teeth and jaw. Unfortunately, for now, the science community doesn’t have a solid answer for why it happens or how to stop it from happening. What we do have is a way to protect your teeth from the pressure of grinding and clenching. This protection comes in the form of THE ALMIGHTY NIGHT GUARD.
A night guard is a piece of acrylic that is fitted to either your top or bottom set of teeth. You wear the guard at night to create a buffer between your teeth as you grind and clench in your sleep.
While a night guard won’t make you stop grinding, the night guard will get destroyed instead of your teeth. If you are a bruxer, getting and wearing a nightguard is the most financially proactive thing you can do for your teeth. The cost of broken teeth is much more expensive than the price of a custom night guard.
How your night guard is protecting you
Getting a well-made, custom night guard from our Cincinnati office can help prevent muscle strain by stopping or reducing the amount of grinding and clenching that’s going on. Not everyone can reduce their grinding with a night guard (some people go on grinding), but with a well-fitted nightguard, you can reduce the strain.
Reduces Possibility of Cracked or Broken Teeth
Your night guard prevents your teeth from cracking and chipping because you aren’t interlocking the cusps of the teeth and shifting them side-to-side. The hundreds of pounds of force from your jaw can break off pieces of your teeth.
Protects your Tooth Enamel
Grinding and clenching damage your tooth enamel and can cause your gums to recede. I have patients who maintain excellent oral hygiene but have cavities and receding gums because they forget to wear their night guards. Don’t be the person who has the solution, but chooses to not use it.
Keeps your Teeth From Flattening(which makes them appear older)
You may not have noticed this before or made the association — flat teeth look like old teeth. The sign of a younger smile is that the teeth appear rounded. If you look at the teeth of someone in their 80’s you’ll notice that they are flat. Flattened teeth can happen just from a lifetime of wear and tear, but you don’t want it to happen prematurely. A night guard is going to help prevent the flattening of teeth, keeping your smile younger-looking, longer.
Over-the-counter night guards vs. custom night guards
You can get an over-the-counter night guard or sports guard from your local pharmacy or online. Buying a night guard at the pharmacy is better than nothing, but it won’t last nearly as long, and it won’t alleviate the symptoms as effectively as a custom night guard that is formed from an impression of your mouth. To me, the problems with OTC night guards outweigh any potential benefits.
- They’re bulky – Over-the-counter nightguards are a one-size-fits-all approach. As your dentist, I can assure you that not every mouth is the same size or shape, nor are all teeth! These night guards tend to be bulky and fit improperly, making it hard to close your mouth, which can cause additional jaw soreness and/or stiffness.
- They fall out – When patients bring me their over-the-counter night guards, I notice that the “boil-and-bite” type can’t create a good enough fit and don’t suction to the teeth. They tend to pop right out, which means they end up on your pillow at night instead of in your mouth.
- They can cause more damage – If your night guard doesn’t align correctly, you can hurt your teeth more by grinding on it, possibly breaking your teeth.
- They don’t last long – Over-the-counter night guards don’t have a long shelf life. I find they last for 1-3 months and then start to break down. Since they cost between $30-$50 each time (and probably don’t fit correctly causing more issues), I see that as a bad investment.
Custom night guards may come at a higher upfront cost, but their durability, success rate, and protective properties make them well worth the investment. I wear a custom night guard every single night, and after five years it’s still going strong!
- Quality Materials – The nightguards we make here at Anderson Dental Care are made from a strong outer shell of heat-cured acrylic – and a soft inner acrylic liner that lays against your teeth. Your teeth can break the nightguard down after years and years of pressure, but your teeth and their enamel will be safe. The kind of night guards we make typically last five to ten years. I’ve seen them last 20 years when they’re taken care of properly.
- Note: Even custom night guards from a dentist can be harmful if they have been not made with quality materials. If your night guard is spongy, easy to chew on, or soft in any way, it’s no good. I see people come into my office with jaw pain or tooth pain, even though they’ve been wearing their night guard (from another dentist). We discover it’s actually the soft night guard that’s causing them to grind and clench EVEN MORE. If your night guard is soft, your brain considers it chewable, and your jaw muscles will grind and clench on it to try to break it down. That’s why we use durable hard materials for our nightguards at Anderson Dental Care — we want to send the message to your brain that it’s not worth grinding on.
- Custom Adjustments and Fit – When you come to our office, we create your night guard based on the shape and placement of your teeth, and we ensure the points of contact are correct between your top and bottom teeth. We are also able to shave off any bulky parts so that you can comfortably close your mouth to sleep. At our Anderson Township dental office, making sure your night guard is comfortable and fits perfectly is our priority. If it’s not comfortable, chances are you won’t wear it.
As a bonus, many patients experience benefits beyond the protection of their teeth. Nightguards cause you to sleep with your mouth open just slightly more than normal but give you something to bite on so your mouth isn’t dropping completely open. This positioning often makes night guards successful in helping reduce mild snoring and mild sleep apnea. It is not a replacement for any doctor-prescribed sleep apnea treatment, and you should always consult your medical doctor with any sleep-related concerns. But if you wear a custom night guard, your family members may get a better night’s sleep too!
At Anderson Dental Care, we never let a patient leave our office with a poorly fitting night guard. Even if we need to send the first one back to the lab to be made again — we do it! You will wear this piece of important oral armor for years to come, so it has to be right.
Fitting patients for night guards, making the night guards comfortable so they get worn, and then seeing the benefits for our patients makes our office of dental nerds really happy! Call our Cincinnati dental office at 513-817-0834 or make an appointment online to start reaping the benefits of sleeping with a custom night guard.
If you’ve been putting off seeing a dentist due to cost, you’ll be happy to know that we provide an affordable alternative to paying out of pocket or carrying pricey dental insurance.
At Anderson Dental Care, we offer a PREMIER DENTAL CARE MEMBERSHIP, and our members save 20% on dental procedures and get anywhere from 2-4 maintenance cleanings a year. Packages start at $31/month.