Teeth grinding not only causes a sore, aching jaw in the morning, but it can also do some serious damage to your teeth. If you are thinking about getting a night guard, here are some important things that you should know.
Night guards can be soft, medium, and hard. Soft night guards are similar in feel to that of a mouth guard used for sports. Harder varieties are more similar to a retainer. Wearing a night guard provides a cushion between the upper and lower rows of teeth. The prevents the teeth from wearing themselves down in the case of grinding teeth during sleep. Grinding teeth during sleep can lead to serious issues like chipping and erosions; however, a night guard does not prevent the grinding from occurring and will not alleviate associated jaw pain. Night guards simply act as a shield to protect the teeth.
Although your retainer may look like a night guard, it is not designed to be used in this way. Retainers are not built with the necessary thickness to serve this purpose. On the flip side, night guards should not be used as a replacement for your retainer, unless it is a hard night guard that is custom designed for your teeth.
Night guards are available both over-the-counter and from your dentist. The over-the-counter variety normally entail boiling the night guard, allowing a moment for it to cool slightly, the gently biting down onto it in order to get a more fitted guard. However, nothing beats getting a night guard that is custom designed for your mouth. Getting a custom night guard from your dentist is well worth the investment.
Night guards are prone to becoming smelly and gross when they are not cleaned and stored properly, which is the last thing you want to happen to something you plan on putting in your mouth every night. Rinse off your night guard after you take it out and brush it with a wet toothbrush (no toothpaste). It is also important to allow your night guard to dry before placing it in its case.