The night guard, also known as a mouth guard, is an insert placed over your teeth while you sleep to prevent teeth grinding, or bruxism. Over-the-counter versions need to be heated up then molded to fit your upper or bottom teeth, while a dentist will provide one with a custom fit. The night guard has been used for several decades, but the Mayo Clinic warns about a number of side effects.
Night guards that do not have a proper fit can come out or move around during the night, especially if you start grinding your teeth. They may also irritate other areas of your mouth if they dig into your cheeks or are improperly positioned over your gums. The best way to avoid a bad fit is to use a custom-fit night guard from a dentist.
The best night guards to prevent shifting are those that fit over the entire top or bottom row of teeth. Those that do not cover the entire row are more apt to shift around in your mouth because your teeth don’t have a sturdy base into which they can bite.
Night guards made of a soft or gel-like material are also more prone to dislodging during teeth grinding. Night guards made of softer materials generally don’t fit as well those made from sturdier substances such as acrylic.
Not using the night guard as instructed can make it ineffective. Wear the night guard every night, and follow your dentist’s precise instructions on all other aspects of its use.
A night guard could worsen symptoms of other disorders, such as sleep apnea. Let your dentist know if you suffer from other sleep ailments. Two reports from consumers on Patientslikeme.com added two more negative effects. One mentioned the night guard sometimes made teeth hurt, while the other said the night guard put a damper on intimacy because of its unattractiveness.