Top Mouth Guards for Grinding Teeth

Multiple types of mouth guards protect your teeth from teeth grinding issues. Learn current information on the top mouth guards for grinding teeth today.

Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding. Teeth grinding results in multiple possible issues, including broken teeth, tight muscles, an aching jaw, and headaches. Thankfully, numerous types of mouth guards are manufactured to prevent these bruxism-based issues.

Mouth guards are designed to cover your teeth and protect both your teeth and gums. The best mouth guards sold are often customized to fit the size and shape of your teeth perfectly. Over-the-counter (OTC) mouth guards are also effective and help prevent damaging issues during sporting or general outdoor activities. Continue reading to learn current information on the top mouth guard types for grinding teeth today.

What Are Mouth Guards? Read an Important Overview Here

A mouth guard is a protective device designed to prevent damages due to bruxism. While bruxism is the official medical term, most consumers recognize and refer to the issue as teeth grinding. Teeth grinding happens most frequently at night while people are sleeping. People also choose to wear mouth guards most frequently at night to avoid social awkwardness or the necessity of explanations at school or work. For this reason, a mouth guard is also referred to as a night guard. Occasionally, teeth grinding will also occur during the day during stressful or frightening moments or when a person is daydreaming.

Mouth guards prevent damages and additional issues caused by teeth grinding. The most common of these issues are headaches and jaw pain. In fact, jaw pain is so common it contributed to yet another reference name for mouth guards. The jaw joint is referred to medically as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Therefore, some people refer to a basic mouth guard as a TMJ Mouth Guard.

Teeth grinding also leads to issues with muscles tightness. Prolonged teeth grinding also potentially results in broken teeth as well. A quality mouth guard prevents these issues in addition to damages to your tongue, cheeks, and gums.

Difference between Night Guards and Mouth Guards for Sports

Quality mouth guards prevent against teeth grinding all issues as listed as well as damages from sports and general outdoor activities. Mouth guards designed for teeth grinding are not typically the same as those designed for sporting and outdoor activities, however. Many night guards are custom-made, comprised of thin plastic meant to fit only your teeth. Athletic mouth guards are made of a thicker rubber material and, while also customized for higher-level athletes, are generally over-the-counter products when sold to younger non-professional athletes.

Types of Mouth Guards Available

Perhaps the biggest aspect to recognize as a consumer pursuant to bruxism protection is the variety of mouth guard types available. Over-the-counter (OTC) and custom-made mouth guards are both sold. Additional categories of mouth guard types are manufactured and sold under the broader OTC and custom-made categories as well. First, it is important to understand the differences between the two main types of mouth guards sold today.

OTC vs. Custom-Made Mouth Guards

OTC mouth guards are made from a thin, flexible plastic. They are designed to suit the needs of a wide range of consumers. When an OTC mouth guard is first removed from its packaging it is typically sitting in a prefabricated u-shaped tray. A single night guard is designed for the upper row of teeth and must be specifically fitted to your teeth prior to feeling comfortable and working properly. OTC guard fitting is accomplished by a boil-and-bite method. This involves:

  • Briefly placing the night guard in boiling water to increase its pliability.

  • Inserting the guard into your mouth once safely cooled (albeit warm enough to mold).

  • Biting down gently to mold the warm plastic to the shape of your teeth (biting down too hard on the warm mouthguard will puncture it).

  • Trimming excess plastic with scissors or razor blade to finalize the fitting. 

OTC mouth guards are available at many online retailers in addition to online and in-person pharmacies. Prices range between $15 and $35 on average. OTC mouth guards typically last a few months before beginning to wear, tear or puncture. Fitting is quick, however, and the affordability and availability of OTC mouth guards makes them a popular choice with consumers.

Custom-Made Mouth Guards

Custom-made mouth guards require a prescription from a dental professional. They are made from thermoplastic materials and fitted perfectly to your needs based on images and a comprehensive mold of your teeth and mouth. The thickness of the plastic is customizable. Custom mouth guards are also created differently depending on their purpose. This includes creating a guard for both your upper and lower sets of teeth. Customized mouth guards last up to several years and cost between $100 and $700 on average.

Additional Categories of Mouth Guards

Numerous general types of OTC and custom mouth guards are designed. Each manufacturer also designs proprietary mouth guard types as well. For example, OTC mouth guard types include both boil-and-bite and stock. A stock mouth guard essentially fits all sizes, are pre-shaped and ready to wear without fitting. Stock mouth guards are also less likely to fit properly, are often uncomfortable and even cause breathing issues in some people.

OTC and custom mouth guards are often either soft, hybrid or hard. These are for light, moderate, and heavy grinding issues respectively. Retainer mouth guards are also designed for hard grinding combined with the promotion of teeth retention. Pro Teeth Guard also makes an Ultra-Thin Guard for daytime grinding issues ($169.99 plus tax).

When Do You Need to See a Dentist for Teeth Grinding?

You might need to see a dentist when your teeth grinding causes tight muscles, an aching jaw and/or headaches. This is especially true if you experience any of these symptoms for a prolonged period if they increase in intensity or become debilitating. If one or more teeth break due to your bruxism, however, you need to see a dentist right away. Finally, if any of your pain or other symptoms persist even after you begin wearing a mouth guard, you also need to contact a dentist immediately. 

Alternative Treatment Methods for Teeth Grinding

Multiple treatments for bruxism are sometimes recommended by dentists or doctors as alternatives to using mouth guards. This is because teeth grinding is caused by a variety of potential issues. For example, if a patient is grinding his or her teeth due to stress, psychotherapy treatments might be prescribed. Antianxiety medication might be subscribed as well, in addition to muscle relaxers or certain kinds of tranquilizers. Physical therapy (PT) is another alternative treatment, although PT is generally ordered to mitigate stiff or hurting muscles and not to prevent bruxism. Finally, if you have a broken tooth or teeth caused by grinding issues, you might be prescribed various types of restorative treatments to correct the damages.