Do I Need A Night Guard?
We’re going to talk about night guards, since they don’t get enough attention even though they can make the difference between good, restful sleep and waking up in pain. Maybe your dentist told you you need one, or you’ve heard about what they can do, so we’re going to try to answer people’s most common questions about them.
What are night guards?
They are plastic guards that go on your teeth to protect them while you sleep. They’re a little like the athletic mouth guards people wear for certain sports, but they are thinner and less obtrusive.
Why do people wear night guards?
Some people clench and grind their teeth during sleep. Clenching is pressing the top and bottom teeth tightly together, while grinding is holding them together and pushing them back and forth. The condition of doing this is called bruxism.
Bruxism can wear off tooth enamel, which doesn’t regrow, increasing the possibility of chipping and cavities. Nightguards do not cure bruxism itself, but they protect the teeth from the effects of it. Instead of teeth wearing each other down, they are wearing down the nightguard, which is engineered to take a lot wear during its service life.
Is a nightguard the only option?
Nightguards on average cost about $400-500, so some people may look for cheaper options. For instance, what about athletic mouth guards? Well, those are designed for sudden impacts, not slow wear and tear. Grinding may actually wear through them faster than through an nightguard, and in any case, given their size, they will be much more uncomfortable.
A couple of steps you can take that might eliminate the need for a nightguard are drinking less alcohol and caffeine, quitting smoking, and performing some kind of relaxation exercises before bed.
Do nightguards hurt?
A nightguard properly fitted for you by a dentist is designed to feel as natural as possible, but it might still take a week before you really get used to it. Wearing it for a few hours in the evening before bed may speed up the breaking-in process.
Why do many people try to avoid nightguards?
The expense we mentioned is one reason. But not only is the cost of a nightguard much less than that of a root canal or tooth replacement, but many insurers are happy to cover nightguards because of how much they save in future dental care costs.
Some people might also believe that the device will be uncomfortable. But most discomfort from nightguards comes either from a dentist improperly fitting them, or patients trying to fit them themselves.
How will a nightguard help me?
If you get a nightguard, have it properly fitted, and get used to the feel of it, using it regularly can help you sleep better, reduce morning head and jaw aches, and most importantly, prevent damage to your teeth, implants, restorations, crowns, etc.
Why getting a nightguard from your dentist is worth it
There are nightguards available online that are cheaper than what your dentist has available, but there’s a reason for that. You can’t be sure it will align and fit right with your mouth. It will be more likely to fall out because it doesn’t fit, and it will wear out faster. The higher quality models can last up to ten years, and the dentist fits them by taking a mold of your teeth so they will fit perfectly.
If you wake up with headaches or sore jaws, or if you’ve been told you grind your teeth, call Apple Valley Dental Group in Front Royal at 540-635-2493 to talk about your options and whether you might benefit from a nightguard. You can also contact us through our website.