Choosing a bruxism mouth guard is one of the easiest ways of immediately dealing with the problem of teeth grinding, and some people find that using a mouth guard to interrupt this behavior eliminates or reduces bruxism within just a couple of weeks. This is because wearing a mouth guard not only protects the teeth from grinding, but also creates a whole new pattern of sensory activity.
When a person clenches down, or grinds on a mouth guard it will feel entirely different to the sensation created by grinding or clenching the teeth without any protection, and will send completely different messages to the brain, interrupting the pattern of behavior. There are several different types of teeth guards to choose from, with the choice being down to personal preference and comfort, and of course budget. Mouth guards can be made from rigid or flexible acrylic.
- Buying a readymade mouth guard is one of the easiest and cheapest options, and there are lots to choose from. They are widely available in drug stores and over the internet, but it’s worth paying a bit extra for a better quality guard that can be easily adapted to fit your mouth. These are generally called boil and bite guards because they are placed in hot water to soften them up so that they can then be molded around your teeth to give a reasonable fit. The advantage of these types of night guards is the cost, but it’s difficult to get them fitting exactly, and they may be less comfortable than custom made night guards.
- If you visit your dentist then it is highly likely that they will recommend a custom made mouth guard. These are designed to exactly fit your teeth, and will be made to the dentists prescription based on their assessment of your condition. This may depend on how your temporomandibular joint (the joint which hinges your jaw) is affected by your teeth grinding. Some dentists favour a thicker mouth guard to relieve the stress on the joint which is tapered towards the back teeth, while others will recommend a thinner mouth guard. The reason they are tapered is because the gap between your front teeth is greater than the gap between your back teeth when the jaw is at rest.
- One of the newest kinds of teeth grinding guards comes from GrindGuard N. This is a much smaller mouth guard so it’s easy to sleep with while wearing, and it is also much more effective. It uses a central power bar which tells your brain to stop grinding once you start. There have been some rave reviews about this product and you can see some videos on GrindGuard N on this page.
The dentist will take an impression of your mouth which is then cast up to create a plaster replica of your mouth. This is used to construct the mouth guard which is usually done using an acrylic plate that is gently heated before being adapted over the plaster model under vacuum. The excess material is then cut away and smoothed according to your prescription before the final adjustments are made chair side during fitting.
- An alternative to a mouth guard is the NTI-Tss (NTI-tension suppression system) which is constructed chair side by the dentist and fits over the front teeth. It works by activating a nerve reflex that decreases muscle tension and prevents the back teeth from coming into contact. Some users have found it to be very effective, especially for reducing symptoms of TMJ such as headaches.
Using a good mouth guard may be enough for some people to break the habit of bruxism and effectively cure this condition. Others may need to use a mouth guard in conjunction with other forms of therapy, such as biofeedback or relaxation exercises.