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What Are the Pros and Cons of Mouth Guards for Teeth Grinding?

By Kay Paddock
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Teeth grinding, or bruxism, can cause jaw and tooth pain, headaches, and wear and tear on the teeth. Mouth guards for teeth grinding are designed to be worn while sleeping at night to help prevent this from happening. The wearer may still try to make the movements, but the guard cushions the teeth and keeps them from touching. Some of the pros of wearing these night guards are protection for the teeth, less pain and possibly better sleep. Cons include the expense of some custom-made guards, the inability to sleep with something in one's mouth, and lack of relief from some symptoms.

People who grind their teeth at night risk serious dental problems. Eventually, the teeth can start to wear down. As the enamel on the teeth wears away, there is less protection around the roots. Sensitive teeth, toothaches and cavities can result. One of the best ways to prevent these problems is by using specially designed mouth guards for teeth grinding.

Whether the guard is custom-made or purchased from a store, it puts a barrier between the upper and lower teeth to keep them from scraping and grinding together. Not only does this protect the surface of the teeth, but it also helps prevent the pain that can come from grinding them. Pressure put against the teeth during sleep can be much more forceful than a person would ever attempt while awake, and can cause loose teeth, jaw pain and headaches. Mouth guards can help ease those pains, relieve some of the pressure and make it easier to sleep.

Some of the cons of using mouth guards for teeth grinding include the potential expense and the inability to get used to having something in one's mouth at night. Most dental care professionals can make custom-made mouth guards. These are usually smaller than those found in stores, and typically fit over the teeth very well. Custom night guards can be expensive, which often leads people to try the ones found in stores first. Mouth guards purchased at a store are more economical, but may not be as comfortable.

Moldable mouth guards for teeth grinding are another option and can usually be found in stores that have pharmacy items. These night guards are typically boiled to soften them, then pressed against the teeth to give them a "custom" fit. Mouth guards of this type are inexpensive, but usually larger than the custom-made appliances, and they may be difficult to get used to.

A person with serious grinding problems may find that even after purchasing a mouth guard his jaw still aches. This might be due to the fact that he's still clenching his jaw muscles and biting down on the guard. A dentist can probably recommend strategies for minimizing jaw clenching at night. Relaxation exercises and a nighttime ritual may also help. It also may be a good idea to try a guard that fits differently in one's mouth, which sometimes mean purchasing an expensive, custom-made device.

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Discussion Comments
By anon359584 — On Dec 18, 2013

The moldable ones at stores are not really custom fit. I know you put "custom fit" in quotations so you I'm sure you agree but it's so confusing to people.

A true custom fit night guard is based on a dental impression of one's teeth. You can also get night guards for teeth grinding through online sites like Sentinel Mouthguard Co. This company and the like will mail out a dental impression kit to you (bypassing the dentist) and you literally save hundreds by taking your own dental impression. Hope this helps!

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