Safest Teeth Whiteners
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Night guards are plastic devices that fit over the upper or lower teeth. People wear them while they sleep. Like athletic mouthguards, night guards absorb pressure and stress that would otherwise strain your teeth.
But rather than protecting your teeth from acute sports injuries, night guards are intended to prevent tooth wear caused by bruxism (grinding).1, 2
If you grind your teeth at night, a night guard may keep you from wearing down your teeth over time.3 Nightguards can also prevent damage to your existing restorations like crowns and implants.
Some dentists and doctors recommend night guards for sleep apnea. One study found they may also reduce occurrences of canker sores.4
While a night guard can prevent bruxism-related teeth damage, it may not address the underlying cause.5,6,7
Jaw muscle clenching and bruxism are common, normal stress responses.8 They can also be responses to poor breathing, which may be a result of poor sleep and dietary habits.9
Consult your doctor or dentist if you think you need a night guard. While it might not cure bruxism, it will protect your teeth.3,5
Here are three common types of night guards:
Ready-to-wear or stock night guards come as one-size-fits-all. They’re affordable and easy to find in stores, but they’re not the highest in quality.
Boil-and-bite night guards are similar to ready-to-wear ones, except they fit to your teeth better.
They’re made from thermoplastics, which soften with heat. By placing the night guard in hot (not boiling) water, you can make it soft and pliable.
You can then fit the night guard onto your teeth. After placing it in your mouth, press it onto your teeth and bite down onto it. Run it under cold water to harden it again.
Custom-fitted night guards provide the most tailored fit to your unique teeth and bite. They’re also made from more durable materials.
To make a custom-fitted night guard, your dentist will make impressions of your teeth. A dental lab will then use those impressions to create your night guard.
A custom night guard is likely to be the most comfortable and most effective at protecting your teeth. This is especially the case if you have braces or dental implants, as store-bought night guards won’t fit around your braces or implants.
Caring for your night guard involves keeping it clean and avoiding damage. To keep your night guard clean, follow a daily cleaning routine, just as you do for your teeth.
Do the following daily to keep your night guard clean:
At least once a month, you should deep clean your night guard. You can do this with an over-the-counter (OTC) denture cleaning solution or with vinegar and hydrogen peroxide.
If you’re using a denture solution, follow the instructions carefully. Avoid denture solutions that contain artificial fragrances or dyes.
If you’d prefer to use vinegar and peroxide:
After deep cleaning, store your night guard in its case.
Just as it’s important to clean your night guard, you should also be sure not to do anything that might damage or weaken it.
If cared for properly, a custom-fitted night guard from a dental professional can last years. Store-bought night guards, on the other hand, may not last more than a few months, even with regular cleaning and care.
No matter what kind of night guard you have, be sure to keep it clean and damage-free for as long as you can.
You can buy ready-to-wear and boil-and-bite mouthguards at your local drugstore. They typically cost $30 or less.
Custom-fitted night guards may cost anywhere from $100 to several hundred dollars. You can get one from your dentist or an online supplier.
An online retailer may provide a durable, comfortable and effective night guard, but your dentist will have better knowledge of your unique situation. However, the online option is likely to be less expensive.
The cost of a custom guard may also depend on your insurance provider. In some cases, insurance may cover as much as half the cost.