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Night Guard for Bruxism: Teeth Grinding and Clenching

Woman holding night guard for Bruxism

Teeth grinding and clenching, also known as Bruxism, is pretty common and can be painful and destructive to teeth. Luckily, there are plenty of night guards for Bruxism on the market that can help anyone who clenches and grinds their teeth while sleeping.

About Bruxism: Symptoms, Side Effects, Causes

Bruxism is fairly common and some may not even be aware of their own grinding. Some Bruxism symptoms you may suffer from are:

  • Teeth grinding
  • Waking up with dull headaches
  • Jaw soreness
  • Facial pain
  • Fatigue from lack of sleep

Occasional teeth grinding may not cause any real concerns, but long-term, consistent Bruxism can lead to broken teeth, loss of tooth enamel, and in severe cases, loss of teeth.

The exact cause is unknown, but it’s believed that stress and anxiety play the biggest role. Other causes may also be alcohol use, cigarettes, caffeine, sleep apnea, snoring, an abnormal bite, and crooked teeth.

Night Guards

Most cases of Bruxism can easily be treated by wearing a night guard while you sleep. Night guards are also known as dental guards, mouth guards, nocturnal bite plates, or bite splints. They work by putting a barrier between your teeth. When you clench your jaw, the night guard helps to lighten the tension and give cushion to the muscles in the jaw. This cushioning not only helps to prevent face and jaw pain, but also protects the enamel of your teeth. They look very similar to snoring remedies.

Night guards for Bruxism can be purchased over-the-counter without a prescription, as well as straight from the dentist or cost effectively from a specialized online retailer. There are a few different ways they can be fitted, and the type that will work best for you depends on your individual needs.

Night guard for Bruxism

Types of Night Guards

Soft Night Guard

This is the most commonly used type of night guard for Bruxism and used mostly for mild or occasional cases, not for severe teeth grinders.

PROS:

  • Most comfortable fit of all the night guards
  • Most adaptable/easy to get used to
  • Usually lower cost

CONS:

  • Some people unintentionally clench on to or chew the soft material
  • Not as durable/limited lifespan
  • Most warranties are only 6 months or less due to the limited life-span
  • Not a long-term solution

Dual Laminate Night Guards

This type of night guard for Bruxism is for moderately severe teeth grinders. They are soft on the inside and hard on the outside.

PROS:

  • Handles heavy clenching and grinding
  • Longer lasting
  • Usually offers a longer warranty than soft guards

CONS:

  • Tend to be a little thicker than the other guards
  • Seem to be harder to adjust to

Hard Night Guards

Hard night guards for Bruxism are made from acrylic and are extremely rigid but durable. They can be used for very severe cases of grinding, as well as TMJ.

PROS:

  • Most durable
  • Prevents teeth from shifting
  • Usually offers the longest warranty

CONS:

  • Thicker than soft night guards
  • More uncomfortable than others
  • Difficult to get used to sleeping in
  • Need to be ordered directly through dentist since an accurate impression is needed for fit
  • Can be more expensive than the others

Tips to Help Adjust to Night Guards

  • Choose the thinnest possible guard suitable for you.
  • Stick with it for at least 4-6 weeks and make a habit out of wearing it. After this amount of time, it should feel like a normal part of your routine and will seem a lot easier to wear.
  • Put it in right before you go to sleep. Don’t try to wear it before you’re ready to go to bed, otherwise it will just feel obnoxious.

Fitting your Night Guard

Personalizing the fit of your night guard will depend on what brand you choose. Many of them use the same process that is used by snoring mouthpieces. Here are the different night guard fits for Bruxism:

  • “One-size-fits-all.” There are over-the-counter mouth guards you can buy that will not be custom fitted. These may work for the occasional teeth grinder and are probably the lowest-cost option.
  • “Boil and bite.” With this type, you just boil in water and bite into it to leave your own impression. It’s usually pretty simple to do and seems to be the most common type out there.
  • Order online. There are night guards you can order online. The company you order from has you send your impression to them and they mail back your fitted mouthpiece.
  • Made in lab. You can get mouth guards right from your dentist. These offer the most accurate fit because they are made with your impression in a lab.

If you suspect you may suffer from Bruxism, don’t worry. It can easily be treated with night guards. However, it’s always good to see a doctor to see if you can discover the root cause and fix that before seeking other treatment. In some cases, sleep apnea can be a cause.

Sleep Apnea and Bruxism

Just before we reach deep sleep, the muscles in our bodies relax. This includes the muscles in the airway, neck, and tongue. When this happens, excess tissue in the neck and airway, along with the tongue, can block airflow when we breathe, causing pauses in breathing. This is known as sleep apnea.

In some cases, the brain tells our jaw to tighten, clench, and grind in order to hold the airway open so we can breathe.

This keeps air flowing, but prevents us from entering deep sleep. The result can be compromised mental and physical health.  Click here to take a free, 1 minute online assessment to gauge your risk factor of having sleep apnea.

If sleep apnea is ruled out, a night guard for Bruxism may be what you need to give your jaw some relief. If a night guard isn't helping or you want to explore different methods, learn about other ways to stop grinding your teeth at night.

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13 comments on “Night Guard for Bruxism: Teeth Grinding and Clenching”

  1. I have severe bruxism and need a specialist to help me with treatment and a serious night guard.
    My dentist gave me one that lasted less than a year. My teeth hurt because of the pressure. I’ve found myself grinding even during the day.
    Would you provide me information about it?
    I Live in Princeton, New Jersey.
    Thanks

  2. I second what Meghan said, botox really helps. I have TMJ & get awful migraines often. Botox is covered by some insurances if you get migraines VERY often and have TMJ but you need good insurance and I would ask your insurance ahead of time to make sure they cover it. I have a hard night guard but I somehow still cracked my tooth (same tooth, second time). My neck, shoulders, and jaw seem to always be in pain. I've tried physical therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, ice/heat, muscle relaxers, gabapentin, ibprofen, and botox. Botox works the best, along with using ice on your jaw and taking ibprofen. Learning how to massage your own jaw is also useful when your in hell. Good luck!

  3. Alexis- I’ve had two “rounds” of Botox for my jaw clenching and it truly makes a difference. I receive the treatment at a dental practice in my city. The big downside is the cost, which of course, isn’t covered by insurance... so you’re looking at a few hundred dollars two or three times a year (the effects wear off after a few months). I was absolutely desperate after dealing with this for many years and it getting worse, leading to teeth cracks and such. This is something I’m really looking forward to once the virus clears out!!

  4. Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon on a daily basis.
    It's always interesting to read through content from other authors and practice
    a little something from their web sites.

  5. I recently started clenching (also had some bad crowns done in the past, now I'm with a new dentist) and bought a mouthguard from my dentist. I still find myself clenching with the mouthguard and feel my teeth have shifted. I take Baclofen for muscle spasms and am trying new anxiety meds but dont like the side effects. My dentist told me the mouthguard wouldnt make my teeth shift so I guess it's the clenching? I'm really frustrated at this time. Hes going to redo one of my crowns soon hes thinking that might be the problem. I'm just really worried and want to feel normal again.

  6. I got a hard guard from my dentist but I think it changed my bite and made my lower teeth crooked!! Should I ask the dentist to fix this for free? Can he? Do I need braces now?

  7. I have bad anxiety and I believe that's led to my clenching/grinding and tmj. It got so bad that I couldn't open my mouth at one point. It also has affected my ears, they feel stuffy but I went to an ent and had a sinus scan and they said my ears are fine so it must be my tmj. So they sent me to a physical therapist. The pt helped me alot but I'm still having jaw pain, so today I saw a dentist about a nightguard. I should be getting it on thursday. I really hope it helps, it cost $500! I'm tired of the jaw pain, headaches and dizziness. Things that have helped me have been massages, adjustments by a chiropractor, ice packs and tylenol. The dentist told me that my bite is off so I need to see an orthodontist about braces! I don't know if that'll help and I know it'll be costly.

  8. Cindy I have had severe TMJ for 30 years but have managed it quite well with no teeth removed. I got opinion after opinion with a wide range of invasive procedures and surgeries suggested. I would get SEVERAL more opinions as well as making vital lifestyle changes. The following have really helped me:
    -no sugar, chocolate, or alcohol after dinner (all directly increase bruxism)
    - limit or eliminate caffeine, even in the morning
    -find ways to limit your stress
    -exercise, especially walking and stretching
    -chiropractic care, massage, acupuncture and physical therapy do help
    -ice packs for inflammation
    -ibuprofen at bedtime with Dramamine when it’s bad, and I just started taking cyclobenzaprine at bedtime once in awhile for muscle relaxation
    -good quality magnesium supplements at night help with sleep quality and muscle relaxation
    -epsom salt bath at bedtime helps with relaxation and is a good source of magnesium
    -a really good, hard, thick night guard (not a soft or thin one)
    -orthodontic treatment (I did Invisalign and I think it helped
    -see a therapist because maybe you have underlying anxiety or depression, which often contributes to the severity of this. Also, chronic pain and lack of understanding by others can cause depression and anxiety
    Good luck!

  9. I clench my teeth and have broken teeth that were crowned and also bridges. I find myself clenching my teeth during the day as well. I have a night guard that I had made by the dentist but it doesn't help. I have broken crowns and bridges while wearing it.
    My dentist wants to extract all my bottom teeth and place 5 implants and then be fitted with an unmovable plate. It is extremely expensive and a very long and painful process. The real problem is my bite and I was told that I am not a candidate for orthodontics. I have bone loss so I will have to have some bone added before the implants are placed. I would appreciate some advice please.

    1. Cindy, I think you should seek a second opinion from another dentist before making any decisions. That's a very extreme procedure and I hope you can find a less painful/expensive alternative!

      Have you talked to your regular doctor about the issue as well? Perhaps they could help you address the clenching itself or at least rule out some possible causes.

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