Night guard

Do You Need a Nightguard?

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). Sometimes, these mouth guards are prescribed for TMJ (which can be exacerbated by teeth clenching).


Bruxism, or teeth grinding/clenching, is a sleep-related movement disorder in which your upper and lower jaw clench together. Often, grinders clench their teeth without being aware of their actions, particularly at night. Teeth aren’t built to withstand the constant force and abrasion of bruxing (grinding). In most cases, grinding teeth exerts 250 pounds of force per square inch of tooth surface.


Usually, bruxism is a “multifactorial” condition, meaning it can be caused by a combination of many different factors. Common causes of teeth grinding/bruxism include:

  • Disordered sleep breathing (sleep apnea)
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • High levels of stress/poor stress response
  • Poor occlusion/bite (when your upper and lower teeth don’t meet the way they should)
  • Chronic or acute trauma to the mouth and/or jaw
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Neurotransmitter disruptions
  • Use of antidepressants, amphetamines, anti-anxiety drugs, or antipsychotics
  • Nicotine use
  • Frequent alcohol use
  • Excessive coffee intake


Night guards are prescribed for teeth grinding because your teeth would otherwise wear down and age prematurely. Guards offer protection for your tooth enamel. This is most important for your back teeth (molars) because they’re most susceptible to
wearing (attrition). If you have TMJ from bruxism, a night guard may help to relieve soreness in your jaw muscles.


Prevent Excessive Wear: Wearing a night guard protects your teeth from excessive wear and tear. This is because people tend to grind their teeth at night while they are asleep. Teeth grinding on teeth are a major problem. It can cause your teeth to wear down and cause damage to your enamel. Having a plastic buffer will protect your teeth from this.

Keeping Your Teeth In Place with a Night Guard

Your teeth actually move, or rather drift. So, by wearing a night guard you actually keep them in place. Wouldn’t you want all that money spent on braces and dental cosmetic surgery to be well spent? Protect your teeth by keeping them in place and aligned.

Relaxed Bite

A night guard will allow for you to have a good bite while you sleep. By this, we mean that your facial muscles will be relaxed and that your bite will be in a good position.

Prevents Snoring

Did you know that a night guard can help you with snoring? Your night guard actually creates a small space that allows for air to flow more efficiently, which in turn allows you to breathe better while you sleep.

Bone Loss Splint

As mentioned earlier, your teeth tend to drift. If you experienced bone loss, this can be a big problem. By wearing this you can effectively have it act as a splint. It will keep your teeth in your mouth because it will prevent them from drifting. Drifting due to bone loss tends to be more common with older patients.


There are little to no side effects to wearing a nightguard. As mentioned in the introductory paragraph, the night guard’s purpose is to act as a protective device for your teeth; however, it can lead to small problems as well. Over-the-counter night guards are cheaper and are not carefully molded to suit your jaw and teeth perfectly. They come in freebie sizes (size that is adequate for all). Due to this, an over-the-counter user might start experiencing discomfort and, more importantly,
irritation. 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.


Most people with bruxism are completely unaware that they need a night guard, so how can you know for sure?

You wake up with teeth and jaw pain:

If you’re grinding your teeth at night, you may wake up with significant pain in your teeth, jaw or face. Your jaw may feel stiff and sore from constant movement during the night. It may also click or pop when you chew or open your mouth. Bruxism can also affect the ears, causing ringing or buzzing sound and occasionally hearing loss. Wearing a nightguard will prevent the grinding and clenching, therefore helping to prevent such facial pain in the

You wake up with a headache:

Likewise, people with bruxism often experience headaches in the morning from the pressure they have been putting on their jaw when they sleep. The pain will generally be centred around the sides and back of your head. If you are experiencing headaches in the morning and are confident it is not from sight, tiredness or dehydration, make an appointment with your dentist.

Your teeth are worn or chipped:

Bruxism can lead to teeth being worn down from the pressure of constant grinding and clenching. This will expose your teeth to sensitivity, so you may find that you struggle to eat very hot or cold foods. You can also tell if you have bruxism because your front teeth look shorter, cracked, flat or obviously chipped. The wearing down of teeth can eventually lead to fillings and crowns being needed, so wearing a nightguard is a good way to prevent further damage.

You’re stressed:

Whilst stress isn’t a direct reason for needing a nightguard, it can often be the cause of teeth grinding and clenching. If you go to bed feeling stressed, tense or worried, chances are you may inadvertently clench your teeth in your sleep. Try to relax before you go to bed by taking a long bath or trying breathing exercises.

Your partner has noticed:

One of the most common ways people can find out that they have bruxism is because their partner has noticed them grinding and clenching their teeth in their sleep. It can be quite disruptive for someone you’re sharing a bed with and can prevent them from getting a good night’s sleep themselves. Whilst all the above are common reasons for needing a nightguard, the best way to tell for sure is by making an appointment with your dentist. So, if you find yourself in a spot among the reasons above, do not hesitate to visit us. Get guarded soon!!

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