Has your dentist recently recommended that you use a night guard? You may be wondering, “What is a night guard?” A night guard is a dental appliance that covers the patient’s teeth while they sleep to protect their teeth, gums, and lips from injury. In some cases, night guards can be used to help patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea to keep their airway open while they sleep. Therefore, reducing snoring and daytime fatigue.

Why do I need a night guard? Some patients experience symptoms such as chronic headaches, TMJ pain, and sharp or jagged edges on their teeth. These symptoms may point to being diagnosed with bruxism, a condition where the patient may clinch or grind their teeth at night. One of the leading causes of bruxism is stress according to Healthline. Because they experience them while they sleep, some patients do not even recognize these symptoms. Your dentist may recognize bruxism by the wear patterns on your teeth or the description of your symptoms.

Where do I get a night guard? Night guards can be purchased over the counter at places like Walmart and Walgreens or made custom by your dentist. Some night guards are made of softer plastic while others are made of a harder plastic-like material. One benefit of over-the-counter night guards is their affordability. However, you may find yourself replacing them more often and, in some cases, they aren’t very helpful. If this is the case, please speak with your dentist. Your dentist may recommend that you use one material over another based on your condition and indicators of bruxism. Custom night guards may be fabricated with intricate design and detail to better protect particular regions of your mouth, consequently being more cost effective in the long run.