Posted By: Jenny Lee, D.D.S. | Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What is a Nightguard?

A nightguard is any appliance which covers the teeth and protects them from wear during the night. There are many different kinds of nightguards, and they will all protect the teeth. A few types available are:

  1. Soft rubber, purchased over the counter in a drug store. Caution: May damage the jaw joint
  2. Semi-soft custom moulded by your dentist. Not adjusted to your bite. Caution: May damage the jaw joint.
  3. NTI: Small hard acrylic semi-custom nightguard balanced to your bite by your dentist.
  4. Centric Relation Nightguard: A full arch acrylic nightguard, fully custom fitted and meticulously adjusted for comfort and preservation of your jaw joint and teeth.

Which nightguards protect the jaw joint and the muscles?

Only the NTI and Centric Relation Nightguards protect your jaw joint and your muscles. The soft nightguards are chewy, and if you clench on them, you may damage your joint. If you notice any clicking or popping of your jaw, or any jaw tenderness while using a soft nightguard, immediately discontinue using it.

How does a nightguard help?

Grinding your teeth wears down the teeth and your jaw joint. The muscles become confused and can go into spasm, initiating a never-ending cycle of clench-damage-clench.

Some people are neurologic bruxers. The message to grind their teeth comes from their brain. These patients will always need to protect their teeth and their jaw joint.

Other people grind their teeth because their bite is uneven. These patients can get nighttime relief and  protect their teeth with a carefully balanced centric relation appliance. These patients will also benefit from an occlusal analysis.