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Roughly one-third of children and at least 20% of adults in the U.S. live with bruxism, a condition that causes nocturnal teeth grinding and jaw clenching. While not life threatening, bruxism can lead to painful symptoms such as chronic headaches, jaw pain, and chipped teeth. The condition has also been linked to poor sleep quality and duration. While there is no cure for bruxism, many sleepers find relief using specialized mouthguards that reduce grinding and clenching during the night.
Some anti-bruxism mouthguards are customized for the wearer’s mouth, while other types – known as ‘boil-and-bite,’ or universal-fit models – are not specially fitted. There are pros and cons for each type of anti-grinding mouthguard, which will be discussed later in this guide. Although price-points vary, most anti-bruxism mouthguards – even customized models – cost less than $100.
Read on to learn more about mouthguard options for teeth grinders and jaw clenchers, including our picks for the best four mouthguards sold today. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis.
Our editor’s pick is the Dental Duty Professional Dental Guard, a versatile anti-bruxism mouthguard that not only reduces grinding and jaw clenching, but also helps whiten teeth and can serve as an athletic mouthguard for sports like football or wrestling. The boil-and-bite mouthguards can be trimmed for a customized fit and are made from BPA-free materials.
The Dental Duty mouthguard is also very soft and comfortable; discomfort is a common complaint associated with other boil-and-bite models. These mouthguards also have an exceptionally low price-point; a box of four guards is widely available for $20 or less. The Dental Duty Professional Dental Guard is backed by a 30-night sleep trial with a money-back guarantee, as well.
A common complaint about fitted mouthguards is that they are hassle to obtain and customize. The Pro Teeth Guard, our Editor’s Pick for best customized mouthguard, is much more convenient. Purchasers simply order a home impression kit and create the mold themselves using putty material included in the kit; they then send it to the company’s dental lab, and will receive a customized mouthguard in the mail shortly thereafter.
The Pro Teeth Guard is also high durable. The mouthguard is made from laminate and acrylic materials, allowing it to be used much longer than most boil-and-bite models. The Pro Teeth Guard is also backed by 60-night sleep trial and a 110% satisfaction guarantee; purchasers who are not satisfied may return the guard for a full refund with free shipping. A prescription is not required.
Customers can save a lot of money with the teeth grinding mouthguard from DentalCare Labs. One purchase, normally priced at less than $10, includes four boil-and-bite mouthguards and a protective carrying case. Additionally, the mouthguards can be used for teeth whitening and will protect the user’s mouth during athletic competitions.
The four guards included in each box come in two sizes, and each mouthguard can be trimmed for a customized fit. This selection ensures that every purchaser will be able to use the guard regardless of the shape of their mouth or the alignment of their teeth. The teeth grinding mouthguard from DentalCare Labs is backed by a 30-night sleep trial and a full money-back satisfaction guarantee.
Custom-fitted mouthguards can be problematic for some users when the alignment of their teeth shifts; in many cases, they will need to purchase a new fitted guard. This mouthguard from Teeth Armor offers unlimited adjustments, allowing buyers to save a significant amount of money in the long run. The customization process is also convenient; purchasers make a mold using an at-home kit and then send their impression to Teeth Armor using a prepaid mailing sticker.
The Teeth Armor custom guard is made from durable laminate, giving the product a long lifespan. It is also medium density and should be comfortable enough for most to use. This mouthguard is backed by a full money-back satisfaction guarantee. The guard is priced much lower than most other custom-fitted models, making it our Best Value custom mouthguard pick.
Roughly 10% to 20% of adults in the U.S. experience bruxism, or chronic nocturnal teeth grinding and/or jaw clenching (although some surveys put the figure at more than 30%). Bruxism is also fairly common in children, with one-third of parents reporting at least one child in their household who grinds their teeth on a regular basis. Bruxism can lead to potentially painful complications such as chronic jaw soreness, headaches, and chipped teeth. Additionally, new sleep research suggests a link between nighttime teeth grinding, also known as sleep bruxism, and sleep apnea, a condition characterized by temporary loss of breath during sleep.
Many people with bruxism utilize mouthguards to help reduce nighttime teeth grinding. Some night guards are customized models prepared in a dental laboratory; these are designed for the unique dimensions of the wearer’s mouth. Other mouthguard options include custom-fit models that do not require an impression (making them less expensive than custom dental models), ‘boil and bite’ over-the-counter mouthguards, and non-customized stock mouthguards that are designed to fit any wearer’s mouth.
This guide will take a closer look at common mouthguard designs, as well as tips for first-time mouthguard buyers and our picks for the top-rated brands and models (according to customers and owners). First, let’s explore the causes — and effects — of chronic bruxism.
There are two types of bruxism: sleep bruxism and awake bruxism. Both are associated with the same types and levels of physical damage, but there is one key difference: sleep bruxism typically ends when the individual wakes up, and symptoms gradually improve over the course of the day; while awake bruxism usually does not occur until the individual wakes up, and then worsens throughout the day.
Although bruxism activity varies by patient, the average person with sleep bruxism experiences nightly episodes. Each episode consists of ‘rhythmic masticatory muscle activity’ (RMMA), or jaw muscle activity, at an average rate of once per second, as well as sporadic tooth grinding throughout the night. Most sleep bruxism episodes occur during periods of sleep arousal.
Bruxism can be a very serious and painful condition which can cause damage over time. That’s why it’s important to recognize symptoms and to seek an accurate medical diagnosis as soon as possible.
Common symptoms of chronic bruxism include:
Dentists check for signs of bruxism during routine dental exams. If signs of bruxism are detected, the dentist will normally schedule follow-up appointments to determine if the condition is progressing or not by checking for:
For patients with sleep bruxism caused by or linked to other sleep disorders (such as sleep apnea), their dentist may refer them to a sleep medicine specialist. Likewise, those with psychological disorders (such as severe anxiety) may be referred to a counselor or licensed therapist.
Most adults with bruxism do not require treatment, and children typically outgrow their symptoms. In severe cases, dental therapy and/or medication may be prescribed. Mouthguards are the often the first dental approach used to address bruxism. If mouthguards are ineffective or insufficient, then corrective dental surgery may be required.
Bruxism is classified as a ‘parafunctional activity,’ which refers to the habitual use of any body part that is not the part’s intended primary function. However, sleep experts continue to debate whether bruxism is a subconscious habit or an involuntary activity (similar to a muscle spasm). The cause of bruxism has yet to be determined, but most experts agree that multiple factors may lead or contribute to bruxism. Two or more of these factors may be present in individual patients, and multiple factors may exacerbate the effects of sleep bruxism. These factors include:
Some causes of bruxism are strongly suspected but have not been conclusively identified. For example, chronic teeth grinding has long been associated to stressful lifestyles, but a direct link between stress and sleep bruxism has not been conclusively identified. Similarly, researchers have noted a tentative link between alcohol consumption and bruxism development, but more studies are needed to establish a direct connection.
Additionally, other medical and mental health disorders are associated with bruxism. These include the following:
It’s also important to note that malocclusion — physical contact between teeth that occurs due to imperfect proportions between the upper and lower jaw — is not considered a primary cause of bruxism. Although some people with malocclusion may grind their teeth, most do not experience the chronic, night-to-night grinding associated with sleep bruxism.
People with night bruxism can choose from a wide range of mouthguard models to meet their individual preferences. Generally, three types of mouthguards are available.
Mouthguards are usually designed for either the top or bottom layer of teeth, but not both; people with bruxism should only use two guards together if their dentist recommends doing so. Mouthguards typically consist of two layers: a softer top layer that cushions the teeth and reduces discomfort, and a more rigid bottom layer for effective teeth-grinding prevention. Some are slanted at the front to reduce contact between the mouthguard and the lips, gums, and other sensitive areas of the mouth, as well as frenulum tissue that connects these areas. Dimensions vary, but mouthguards rarely weigh more than 10 ounces.
Mouthguards for night bruxism should be kept clean whenever they are not in use. Most designs come with a sterilizing tray or case for hygienic safekeeping during the day. In terms of composition, most mouthguards sold today are made from rigid material that won’t crack or deteriorate quickly. They are almost always free of BPAs, latex, and other potentially harmful materials — but purchasers should double-check the composition to be sure.
In addition to preventing bruxism, some mouthguards may also be used as athletic mouthpieces and/or teeth whitening trays.
Now that we’ve gone over the designs and functions of mouthguards for teeth clenching, let’s look at some key factors to keep in mind when comparing different brands and models.