When you sleep, your teeth have the opportunity to rest and rebuild after a long day of chewing and speaking. However, if you grind or clench your teeth while you sleep, they do not get the rest they need. In fact, this grinding and clenching (called bruxism) can cause jaw pain, headaches, and broken teeth. So how do you stop grinding and clenching your teeth at night? By wearing a night guard.
What Is A Night Guard?
A night guard is an oral appliance you wear while you sleep. Similar to the mouthguards athletes use, this appliance cushions your mouth to prevent clenching and has a smooth surface that grinding teeth just slide against. Night guards not only distribute forces, but some can also hold your mouth in a way that relaxes the jaw muscles.
Types Of Night Guards
The three main types of night guards include:
- Stock Guards: These are the most inexpensive type of night guard; however, they only come as one-size-fits-all. This means that they can feel uncomfortable and do a poorer job at stopping bruxism.
- Boil And Bite: This kind of guard can also be bought at a local drug store. However, unlike the stock guard, it can have a more customized fit. You simply boil the material and bite down on it, allowing the guard to cool to the shape of your teeth.
- Custom-Made: Though more expensive, a night guard custom-made by your dentist is the best option. Not only are these guards more comfortable and effective, but they are stronger and longer lasting.
Caring For A Night Guard
You care for your teeth by wearing a night guard, just make sure you care for the guard as well by:
- Brushing and flossing your teeth before putting the guard in your mouth
- Washing the guard with cool water before and after use
- Regularly cleaning the guard with a toothbrush and toothpaste
- Storing the guard in a cool, dry location within a well-ventilated container