A night guard is an extremely common dental device that helps to protect the teeth from teeth grinding or Bruxism. Whether your teeth grinding is due to a specific circumstance such as stress, or it is a chronic condition, a night guard can prevent further damage and protect your smile. However, night guards aren’t designed to last forever, and it’s likely that you will discover a hole in your device at some point.
When your night guard develops a hole, it will need to be replaced. If this was your first night guard, a hole developing also helps to tell your dentist about your sleep behaviors. If your night guard is relatively new and a hole has developed, a device made of a more durable material may be suggested. The best thing to do after discovering a damaged night guard is to have it replaced as soon as possible.
There are a few different reasons why night guards break down over time. Some night guards are simply made poorly and break easily. Other times, your dentist may have underestimated the severity and frequency of your teeth grinding habit and a night guard that is not strong enough was created. How you care for your night guard at home can also contribute significantly to how long your device lasts. Without proper care and maintenance, a night guard is much more likely to crack or break.
The functionality of your night guard relies on regular cleanings. Mouthguards should be cleaned regularly by brushing them just as you do your teeth after every use. They can also be rinsed (not soaked) in mouthwash, or cleaned and rinsed with water and gentle soap. Neglecting to clean your mouthguard can introduce unwanted bacteria and foreign organisms into your mouth.
In addition to regularly cleaning your mouthguard, it is also critical for it to be professionally cleaned and examined by Tompkins Dental on a semi-annual basis. We professionally clean night guards ultrasonically to remove bacteria and accumulated tartar. Night guards collect bacterial deposits over time, and regular professional cleanings will help to remove these and extend the life of your device.
Before purchasing a night guard, it’s best to have your teeth grinding habit professionally examined in order to ensure you are buying the correct type of night guard. Different types of devices have varying expected life spans.
Typically only prescribed to patients who do not have a severe grinding habit, a soft guard lasts the shortest amount of time. Soft guards are made primarily from EVA plastic, which is why they have such a soft texture as compared with other harder night guard materials. This type of night guard often needs to be replaced every six months or so before it wears down or breaks. Additionally, soft guards are usually less expensive than their harder counterparts.
Dual laminate night guards can offer more durability than soft night guards. They are still soft on the inside, but the exterior is harder and more durable. Dual laminate night guards have a longer life span that ranges anywhere from nine months to five years. This wide range is due to the variation of different griding habits as well as how well a patient cares for their night guard.
The strongest and most durable type of night guard is a hard night guard. Depending on the chosen thickness, a 3mm thick hard night guard is designed for patients who grind their teeth on a regular nightly basis. In extreme cases, a hard night guard is necessary to adequately protect a patient’s teeth from excessive teeth grinding to prevent permanent damage to the teeth. Hard night guards are crafted from hard plastics and have a life expectancy of 1-5 years, depending on home care.
Grinding your teeth while you sleep can lead to tooth decay, tooth sensitivity, jaw pain, and other adverse health consequences. For more information about night guards and finding the right fit for your grinding habit, call Tompkins Dental today to schedule a consultation appointment. We can assist you in finding the perfect fit!