This site offers many recommendations for occlusal guards (night guards) that can help you manage your bruxism. But one thing we don’t do is declare one device the best night guard for teeth grinding. That’s because the best night guard is generally the one that is most comfortable to you. There are other factors, such as durability and cost. But comfort is such a big issue that it’s impossible to say which mouth guard is best without knowing more about the individual.
One thing we can do is suggest which types of occlusal guards work best given different personal needs and preferences.
If you have an average sized mouth, you can use virtually any type of occlusal guard (which not a guarantee that they will actually be comfortable for you). However, if your mouth size differs from the norm, you may have trouble with one-size-fits-most night guards. Your best option is a custom device fitted by your dentist. But if the cost of a custom occlusal guard is too high for you, there are still over-the-counter options you can try.
If you have a smaller mouth, a bulky mouth guard made out of soft plastic probably isn’t for you. That rules out boil-and-bite night guards, the most popular type of over-the-counter device. Instead, consider an adjustable night guard made of hard material. These mouth guards are thinner and won’t make you feel like you have a whole package of gummy bears in you mouth.
On the other hand, if you have a larger than average mouth, the adjustable bite guards probably won’t work for you. Because they’re smaller, you may have trouble keeping them in your mouth at night, or they could give you the uncomfortable sensation that you’re going to swallow them. A bulky moldable guard is probably a better bet.
If you’re an extreme grinder, softer plastics may not hold up over time. You might even bite through a moldable mouth guard in the middle of the night. You should strongly consider an acrylic night guard from the dentist. If that’s too much for your budget, there are services that create a durable acrylic occlusal guard for you based on teeth impressions you make yourself at home. One popular option is NightGuardLab.com.
However, it’s important to know that even a tough dental guard isn’t going to hold up forever under the stress of intense grinding. There will come a point where you will have to pay to have your expensive custom fitted night guard repaired or replaced.
Personal preference is the wildcard when it comes to find the best night guard for teeth grinding. A device that feels natural in one person’s mouth may be awkward for someone else. There’s no way to really tell how you’re going to react to a mouth guard of a particular size and texture before you actually try it. However, here are some of the downsides you may experience with each type:
Custom Fitted – Tight fit that may feel overly restrictive to some people
Boil and Bite – Spongy soft plastic that’s bulky and tends to be a mouthful
Adjustable – Hard, smooth material that may have irregular edges for sliding mechanisms
Initially, you should go with what sounds best. However, you may have to try multiple occlusal guards before find one that works for you.
The Best Night Guard is the One You Will Actually Use
No matter what you do, don’t give up on finding a solution to your bruxism problem. If the first night guard doesn’t work for you, try another. And if you find that you just can’t sleep with a mouth guard – any mouth guard – talk to your dentist about other treatments. Letting your teeth continue to absorb the friction of grinding and clenching every night is the worst thing you can do.