You say "po-tay-to" and I say "po-tah-to",. A bite guard is a mouthguard, is a night grinding guard, is a stress guard, is a teeth guard, is a dental guard, is a night guard. One and the same. So, no matter what you call it, it’s purpose is to protect your teeth from the damage caused by teeth grinding.
There are many types of bite guards. If you feel you are in need of a bite guard, it is important to understand the different types available and the different levels of protection they offer.
How do you know which guard is right for you?
The ADA recommends night guards which are durable, fit properly, are comfortable, that stay in your mouth and are easy to clean.
Hard or Soft Material?
- Soft Night Guard:There has been a shift in the way way dentists view the soft night guard. Many dentists have come realize that the rubber like material can actually encourage grinding. In fact, many soft night guards are also prone to wearing down quicker than the hard material night guards. If you decide on a soft guard, familiarize yourself with the warranty of the guard you purchase and pay close attention to any noticeable pain in your temporomandibular joint .
- Hard Acrylic Night Guard: Generally recommended for moderate to extreme grinders/clenchers, the hard acrylic night guard is more durable and can be smaller with a low profile. Most hard acrylic dental guards do not allow for changes to the teeth. This might impact your decision if you plan on having dental work done. New crowns, a bridge, implants, veneers and even cavities can change the way a night guard fits.
Upper or Lower?
Unless you are missing teeth, or need dental work which may change your dental anatomy, it really boils down to personal preference. There are night guards on the market that are remoldable and can be formed to the upper or lower teeth. The advantage of these night guards you can remold the same guard to the top or bottom interchangeably (a plus if you have loose crowns).
Custom or Over The Counter?
- Dental Custom Made Mouthguards - These guards are typically made in a dental lab with impressions. Custom fit guards offer the most protection because they uniquely fit each user’s mouth. However, they take time, can be bulky and are very expensive. (Up to $500).
- Custom Fit - No Impression Mouthguard - The next best alternative to a custom dental made guard is a newer type of technology that gives you a custom fit without impressions. They are made from a perforated material that allows water and air to pass through with ease and durability for optimal dental protection. They are available online and in some drugstores at an affordable price. (Up to $45)
Over The Counter
- Stock mouthguards – With minimal comfort features and oftentime bulky, the prices for the out of the box, pre-formed guards typically around ten-fifteen dollars. In this case, you get what you pay for. (Up to $15)
- Custom fit “boil and bite” mouthguards – These guards are made from thermoplastic material and may offer a better fit than stock grind protectors. However, they are often bulky and can potentially encourage grinding by throwing off your alignment. (Up to $25).
Avoid Toxic Materials
Be certain that your night guard is free of hazardous or toxic materials. They should be free of:
Always err on the side of safety and read the label. Ask your dentist or dental lab to supply this important information.
Bite guard, night guard, stress guard, teeth guard...no matter what you call it, protect your teeth and get to the root of your bruxism.
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