About 10-15% of people wake up to a sore or aching jaw due to a disorder known as bruxism which causes people to grind and clench their teeth at night. While an aching jaw can be a minor complaint, it can result in premature dental wear and other jaw-related issues. Fortunately, bruxism can be treated with a nightguard, which addresses the disorder and helps maintain dental health.
Nightguards are non-invasive medical devices you wear while you sleep which help protect the teeth from clenching and grinding. There are many varieties of nightguards available, and it’s critical to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each type to make the right choice.
The most straightforward and least costly nightguard is made of plastic or another soft material that covers your upper teeth. They are available in a variety of sizes and are placed in your mouth at night. Since this nightguard does not allow for customization, it sometimes results in an inadequate fit that is uncomfortable and unpleasant for patients. Additionally, may also impair your breathing as you sleep.
Another common form of nightguard is the boil and bite guard. This nightguard is constructed of a flexible thermoplastic material that is intended to be put in hot water and then bit into by the patient. They then press the mouthguard firmly between their teeth when they bite down and the silicone takes on the form of the teeth and gums as it cools. While this is a more secure fit than a plastic guard, it can be cumbersome and can impair speech or breathing.
Custom nightguards are made specifically for each patient. A mold of your teeth is taken, and the nightguard is made in a laboratory. These nightguards are made to match your mouth perfectly and should not impair your breathing or ability to speak.
A critical difference between a mouthguard and a nightguard is the protection provided. Athletic mouthguards are intended to secure the whole tooth and the intersection between the tooth and the jawline. While nightguards protect just the tooth, allowing gums to breathe naturally at night.
Mouthguards are designed to be used for brief amounts of time during periods of activity. Although this type of protection is beneficial for sports, sleeping with one will quickly cause discomfort to the gums and causes bacteria to incubate on the gum lines for the duration of your night.
In comparison, nightguards protect only the biting surfaces. Which keeps gums healthy and allows you to breathe naturally while still preventing any damage to your teeth.