Choosing the best mouth guard for teeth grinding without spending a fortune can be difficult. The wrong mouth guard can cause your teeth to wear faster and create jaw pain. The right mouth guard, on the contrary, can in some cases completely prevent the damage normally caused by teeth grinding. If you’re shopping for a mouth guard, here’s how to find the best one.
Other words used by dentists for mouth guard: occlusal splint, bruxism splint, night guard, dental orthoses, and occlusal devices.
Two Kinds of Mouth Guards
Various new mouth guards have been designed over the past 20 years. Most of them have little or no scientific studies to prove their effectiveness. The two main types are the Boil and Bite and the Custom made mouth guard.
The custom made mouth guards are made from the impression of your teeth. They are of excellent quality, durable and comfortable. This was traditionally only available from your dental office, but more and more dental labs, such as ProTeethGuard, are cutting the middle man and reaching directly to customers. This allows you to save a lot since dentist can charge up to $500 for the same custom mouth guard.
The other type of mouth guards are the off the counter boil and bite. You can buy them at your pharmacy. The boil and bite consists of a “one size fit all” plastic mouth guard that you boil in water before biting into it. It has the advantage of being less expensive. But the “one size fit all” is often too big or too small for your mouth. And it doesn’t last as long.
When a night guard is incorporated into your mouth, it will immediately be detected as a foreign body by the other components of the mouth. For the mouth guard to be tolerated, it has to coexist in harmony with them. If details like size, texture, etc. are taken care of (like in a custom made mouth guard) the device will be well-accepted by your demanding oral environment.
In my opinion, it is not advisable to use the boil and bite mouth guards, for several reasons. First, because boil and bite night guards do not provide any control on the important details previously mentioned, like size, thickness and texture. This can cause difficulty falling asleep and in some cases tooth displacement. Second, most people have a low acceptance of these night guards on the long term.
While ready made mouth guard can provide a relief from teeth pressure, you should see them as a temporary solution to having your custom made mouth guard. Those are not as expensive as your dentist may have told you.
See Step 1 for our recommended dental lab.
Requirements Of A Good Mouth Guard For Teeth Grinding
1. Your mouth guard should not be too thick. A thin mouth guard exerts less force at the articular level. It also takes less space in the mouth and is therefore better tolerated by most people.
2. You should feel comfortable wearing it. A mouth guard should not cause any pain.
3. It should cover all your teeth. Mouth guards that do not cover the teeth in the back of your mouth can produce an open bite. This is a condition where, when closing your mouth, your front teeth no longer touch.
4. Your mouth guard should surround the edge of your teeth in order to prevent them from moving.
Can I Use A Sport Mouth Guard For Teeth Grinding?
Soft mouth guards were originally developed as tooth protectors to be used in the practice of some contact sports. However, since they are inexpensive and they can be easily made, some dentists prescribe them as protection against bruxism.
Nevertheless, you should avoid soft mouth guard such as the one used in sports. You may believe that a soft mouth guard helps protect from teeth grinding. But in reality, a soft mouth guard can induce 50% more grinding during sleep. This will cause more muscle pain, TMJ problems and your mouth guard will wear faster. It may also produce unwanted occlusal changes.
Knowing those facts, no valid reason exists to prescribe soft mouth guards (or sport mouth guards) to treat teeth grinding. I therefore recommend you to stay away from them.
Getting The Most Value From Your Mouth Guard
If you are investing in the best possible mouth guard to treat teeth grinding, pay close attention to those steps. They will allow you to keep your mouth guard in good condition for as long as possible.
Wash your mouth guard immediately after use to prevent the saliva that impregnates it from fermenting. A toothbrush can be use for washing your mouth guard. Dentifrice should not be used since its abrasive contents will affect the surface of your mouth guard. Use a neutral soap instead.
Always keep your mouth guard inside its special case. Pets can nibble on the mouth guard and destroy it.
Depending on your degree of bruxism, change your mouth guard at least once a year to maintain its effectiveness.
Learn more about the dental lab I recommend for a custom mouth guard in Step 1 To Treat Teeth Grinding.