If you suffer from sleep apnea or nighttime teeth grinding (night bruxism), a night guard is one of the simplest solutions to consider. These specially designed mouthguards can help protect your teeth and guard against the many health issues caused by sleep apnea while also reducing snoring that may be causing distress to those you live with.
There are a few things to know about night guards before you get one for yourself. Take a look at this guide to the different types of night guards, the benefits they offer, how to get the proper fit, and tips to keep them clean.
What Is a Night Guard?
A night guard is a dental device similar to the mouthguards often worn during contact sports. They’re simple plastic mouthpieces that cover the bite surfaces of either the top or bottom row of teeth and are worn during sleep to treat sleep apnea or teeth grinding.
Night guards can be custom fitted to the individual’s mouth. The nice snug fit this provides not only makes the device more comfortable and easy to sleep with, but it also makes it more effective.
The Different Types of Night Guards
There are two different types of night guards to consider. Each of them offers its own advantages and disadvantages, so consider the following when choosing one.
The easiest night guard to acquire is an over-the-counter one, which you can find in just about any drug store. These devices are either one-size-fits-all or can be fitted to your mouth by boiling them to soften them and then biting down on them.
While they are easy to attain, these are also the least comfortable and the least effective night guard options.
You can acquire custom night guards by visiting your dentist and speaking with them about the conditions you think a night guard may be able to treat. They’re made from a mold of your teeth, so they offer a perfect, comfortable fit and are typically more effective than the over-the-counter options.
Benefits of Night Guards
You may be reluctant to wear a night guard to bed every night, but there are many ways in which they can improve your quality of life and protect both your oral and overall health.
Protecting Your Teeth
Nighttime teeth grinding can slowly erode the enamel on your teeth, which makes them more susceptible to decay and damage. Not only that, but it can cause your teeth to become more sensitive to hot and cold, which can mean daily discomfort.
Preventing Head, Neck, and Jaw Pain
Chronic headaches, neck aches, and jaw pain are other symptoms of nighttime teeth grinding. The constant pressure of teeth grinding can cause all of the muscles and tendons connected to your jaw and beyond to become tense, leaving you with pain and discomfort throughout the day.
TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder, is a condition that affects the connecting joint between your skull and your jaw. Nighttime teeth grinding can trigger TMJ, leading to painful chewing, headaches, earaches, and more. A night guard can help you avoid these unpleasant symptoms.
Treating Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea occurs when breathing is obstructed during sleep. Not only does this condition cause you to snore loudly and lead to daily exhaustion due to poor sleep, but it can also increase your risk for a number of serious medical conditions, including heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and more.
Night guards can allow for unobstructed breathing, reducing snoring and preventing these conditions from developing.
Getting the Proper Fit for Your Night Guard
Night guards can be a lot more comfortable than you think, provided yours has a proper fit. While over-the-counter options are limited in terms of how personalized the fit can be, a custom night guard can be made to fit your mouth perfectly, providing you with a more comfortable fit and greater relief.
Cleaning Your Night Guard
It’s important to maintain a clean night guard in order to prevent any bacteria growth. Fortunately, this task is not complicated. You can simply make sure to brush your night guard every day, and we recommend using an antimicrobial soap like Dial and soaking your night guard in a blend of mouthwash and water or a denture cleaner, which you can find in the drug store at least once a week to keep it nice and clean.
Night Guards from Dental Implant & Aesthetic Specialists
Dr. Brett Langston and the team at Dental Implant & Aesthetic Specialists can provide you with a custom-fitted night guard that can help protect your oral and overall health. Reach out today to learn more.