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What does a Teeth Grinding Guard do?

M.C. Huguelet
Updated May 17, 2024
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Many people grind and clench their teeth as they sleep. This tendency can lead to a number of negative consequences, such as wearing of the teeth, headaches, and jaw pain, which can carry over into waking life. Luckily, these unpleasant problems can often be reduced with the use of a teeth grinding guard, a crescent-shaped insert which is placed around the teeth at bedtime to discourage grinding during sleep. There are two mains types of teeth grinding guards: over-the-counter guards and custom-made guards. Determining which model is best may depend upon one’s budget combined with the severity of one’s grinding problem.

Medical researchers do not fully understand what causes some people to grind their teeth during sleep. It is understood, however, that prolonged grinding can cause extensive wear to the teeth. Additionally, it can lead to constant headaches and jaw pain, each which can negatively affect one’s waking life. In order to discourage grinding, many dental experts recommend using a teeth grinding guard.

Essentially, a teeth grinding guard is a crescent of semi-soft, nontoxic material which is placed over the upper teeth at bedtime. The guard makes the jaws less mobile, discouraging grinding during sleep. Additionally, as it is made from a material which is softer than bone, it prevents the wear that occurs when the upper and lower teeth are ground directly against each other.

There are two main types of teeth grinding guards: over-the-counter models and custom-made models. As its name suggests, an over-the-counter teeth grinding guard can be purchased without medical consultation. It is made from a soft, acrylic material which must be submerged in boiling water after purchase. After submersion, the guard is placed over the teeth and gently bitten into. This process makes an impression of the teeth on the guard so that it fits snugly into the mouth.

Over-the-counter teeth grinding guards are usually very inexpensive, which can make them a good choice for those with a limited budget. Despite the fact that they can be impressed with the teeth’s shape, however, their “one-size-fits all” quality can make them too long or too wide for some people’s mouths. These sizing issues can make over-the-counter guards uncomfortable and difficult to wear.

A custom-made teeth grinding guard is made from impressions of the teeth which are taken by one’s dentist. These impressions are used to make a mold, from which the guard is then formed. The precision and personalization of this method allow for the creation of a guard which fits the mouth exactly. As a result, after an initial adjustment period, a custom guard is usually comfortable to wear, and thus may be more effective than an over-the-counter model. A major disadvantage of custom-made guards, however, is that they can be very costly.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
M.C. Huguelet
By M.C. Huguelet , Former Writer
Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide range of publications, including WiseGeek. With degrees in Writing and English, she brings a unique perspective and a commitment to clean, precise copy that resonates with readers. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.

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M.C. Huguelet

M.C. Huguelet

Former Writer

Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide...
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