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Guide to Choosing Your Night Guard

July 05, 2020

Guide to Choosing Your Night Guard

First off, kudos to you for taking action to manage your teeth grinding and clenching. Getting a custom night guard is one of the most effective ways to protect your teeth and stop the negative effects of bruxism.

That said, we understand it can be a bit tricky to understand your range of options. Is a hard version better than a soft? How does the thickness of a night guard come into play?

Read on to find out how the type of material affects both fit and comfort, how to choose between an upper or lower night guard, and what might be best for your situation.

Soft, Hybrid, Hard - How Do I Choose?

You’ll want your night guard to do two things - fit comfortably, and more importantly, do its job to effectively protect your teeth.

There are largely two factors that determine the comfort and effectiveness of your custom night guard. The first is the type of material and the second is the thickness.

The material determines how the night guard feels against the teeth and the thickness determines how bulky it feels in the mouth. Both factors combined contribute to just how comfortable and durable the night guard will be.

Finding the best night guard for you involves understanding what material and thickness best matches your level of grinding and the comfort level you’re looking for. Here’s a quick run-down of the different versions we offer:

  • The Soft
This is our most comfortable night guard and is made from a rubber-like material called EVA that's approximately 3mm thick. It’s soft (as you might have guessed), flexible, and has more of a “cushion” feel in the mouth. It’s perfect for light grinders and clenchers, those with sensitive teeth, and/or those who simply want the most comfortable solution.
 
Unfortunately with comfort comes the sacrifice of durability. If you grind or clench your teeth heavily or simply have a tendency to chew on soft, chewy things (not judging), we recommend going with the Hybrid or the Hard.
  • The Hybrid
This is a unique material that combines a hard acrylic outer layer and a soft EVA inner layer, also approximately 3mm thick. The hard exterior acts as a durable shell for your grinding and the soft interior provides a slight cushion against the teeth for comfort. 

It's a good “best of both worlds” option to balance comfort and durability. It’s perfect for moderate grinding and clenching and will have a slight flex to it. If you’re new to the world of bruxism, we recommend going with this version.
  • The Hard
This night guard is made of a rigid acrylic material about 2mm thick that offers enhanced durability and protection for heavy grinders and clenchers. If you’ve had a custom night guard from the dentist before, this is likely what was made for you (whether you liked it or not).  

It’s a great option for heavy grinders who keep grinding through their night guards. However, due to the nature of the material, it can sometimes feel tighter and less comfortable depending on the individual.
  • The Retainer Night Guard
If you’re looking for something to protect your teeth from grinding and clenching and prevent your teeth from shifting, this one’s for you. This material is a denser copolyester material about 1.5mm thick that allows it to function as both a retainer and night guard. It’s strong enough to withstand moderate grinding and is perfect for maintaining that smile after any kind of orthodontic work (we all know you didn’t listen to your orthodontist after braces). 

It will feel very similar to the Hard night guard, but is a bit thinner, making it a bit more comfortable. This is also a great alternative as a replacement for the wire retainers you may have since it’s completely clear and transparent.

 

If you’re still unsure, take our quiz here and get a personalized recommendation in under 60 seconds. If you’d like something even more custom, just get in touch with us and we’d be happy to help. 

Next, read on to see how to choose between an upper or lower night guard.

How Do I Choose Between an Upper or Lower Night Guard?

Choosing between an upper or a lower night guard largely comes down to personal preference. As long as there’s a layer of material between your teeth, whether on top or bottom, you’re well protected from the forces of grinding and clenching. However, there are some factors to keep in mind when making your choice.

Comfort and Practicality

After all, the more comfortable your night guard is, the more likely you’ll be to wear it. Most people prefer the upper night guard because it feels less in the way of the tongue, making it both more comfortable and easier to speak with. If this is your first time wearing a custom made night guard, we recommend going with the upper.

If you’re planning to wear it during the day, a lower mouth guard tends to be less visible and may be a more subtle choice if aesthetics are important to you.  

Condition of Your Teeth

You’ll also want to consider the dentition (arrangement and condition) of your teeth since it impacts how well your night guard fits. We recommend going with whichever set of teeth is less complicated. For example, if your upper teeth are more crooked, have a missing tooth, or multiple crowns, then we would recommend going with a lower night guard for a better fit.

Note: Recent studies have suggested that if you have TMJ issues, a lower night guard may be slightly more effective. However, because these studies are based on limited data and are not definitely conclusive, we recommend choosing based on the first two points above. 

Conclusion

There’s really no such thing as a “one size fits all” night guard. Your teeth are unique and so are you. That’s why we offer a range of options based on the severity of your grinding and clenching, your individual comfort level, and your personal preference.  

It may seem like there’s a lot to consider - but at the end of the day, any of the options will make a significant difference in combating your grinding and clenching. 

We understand it can be difficult to know if you'll like the type you choose, especially if this is your first time at the rodeo. If you don’t like the original type you ordered, we're happy to remake another for you within 30 days for a small fee of $40, just to cover the cost of materials and shipping. This way, you can rest assured that no matter what you initially choose, you’re well on your way to happy teeth.


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