How Do I Know If My Night Guard Fits Properly?
If you’ve been diagnosed with TMJ disorder or bruxism (grinding and clenching your teeth), your dentist may prescribe a custom night guard. Custom night guards (oral appliances) are specifically manufactured to fit your mouth, protect your teeth, and eliminate strain on the temporomandibular joint (jaw joint). Getting used to sleeping with an oral appliance can take some time, but it should always fit snugly on your teeth. If you need to continually push it in place with your teeth or your tongue, the night guard is too loose. Read on for other ways to know that your night guard fits properly.
How Your Night Guard Should Fit
To confirm your night guard fits properly, run through this checklist:
- Is the night guard secure in your mouth?
Your custom night guard should not move on your teeth. If you can wiggle it, it’s too loose. When you first begin wearing it, it may feel a bit tight. This is normal and you will likely adapt to the fit quickly.
- Are you experiencing fewer symptoms?
A clear sign that your night guard is working as intended is a reduction in symptoms. For example, if your jaw hurts less than normal, or you notice you’re getting fewer headaches, your night guard fits properly and is working as intended.
- Does your night guard reach your gums?
If your night guard is touching your gums, it does not fit properly. The night guard should protect your teeth, but should not touch your gums.
- Does your night guard prevent you from grinding your teeth?
Some night guards have a form-fitted bite surface so that your teeth can remain comfortable, but you can’t grind them. However, those who grind their teeth with significant force may be fitted for a night guard with a flat surface to prevent grinding.
Risks of Teeth Grinding at Night
Grinding your teeth at night may not seem like a serious cause for concern, but it needs to be treated as soon as possible. The reason? Grinding your teeth isn’t just annoying for anyone sleeping in the room with you; it can lead to serious oral health conditions including:
- Broken teeth
- Broken dental restorations (crowns, fillings)
- Cracked teeth
- Gum disease
- Jaw pain
- Facial pain
- Erosion of tooth enamel
- Tooth decay
- Tooth loss
Custom vs. Store-Bought Night Guard
There are plenty of oral appliances sold in grocery stores, pharmacies, and online. However, you should know that although over-the-counter night guards may be less expensive than a custom night guard, they may not help at all. In some cases, they may make your problems worse. Here are several reasons dentists don’t recommend store-bought night guards:
- Lower-quality materials mean you may grind through them
- Poorly fitting night guard may make your grinding worse, leading to more complex problems such as TMJ disorder and damaged teeth
- Studies have found that over-the-counter nightguards may pose a choking hazard, damage soft tissues, and even move your teeth, altering your bite.
A custom night guard will be more expensive in the short-term, but more cost-effective in the long term as it will reduce risks of further damage to the teeth and jaw joint.
Treatment for TMJ and Teeth Grinding in Holyoke, MA
If you’re suffering from jaw pain, headaches, or sore teeth and gums, it’s time to schedule a dental examination. Since 1974, Dr. Lalchandani, Founder of Oakdale Dental Associates has provided patients with comprehensive dental care, including custom night guards to treat bruxism and TMJ disorders. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Lalchandani at Oakdale Dental Associates, call 413-536-1782 or send us a message.