When Your Dentist Recommends a Night Guard

First, know the cause of your clenching or grinding. You may be able to prevent your grinding by these simple techniques.

One thing that really bothers me is when a dentist recommends a night guard very quickly. It’s crucial to discuss the cause of your clenching, grinding, or tapping (bruxism). Considering the chance of something as serious as sleep apnea being overlooked, I believe not exploring the cause of bruxism is negligence. Please read my blog, Sleep Issues Can Mean TMJ Issues.

DDS’s are great at treatment planning a custom night guard, all the while knowing it doesn’t always treat the problem or stop the behavior. On top of which, your dental insurance doesn’t cover the cost of a night guard, and depending on the kind, they can be very expensive. You would be extremely lucky if your dentist suggested trying an over the counter night guard, which is under $30!

Deal with Stress to Avoid a Night Guard

I always take the time with patients to discuss what could be causing their bruxism, and hence, any related TMJ issues. Sometimes awareness of the behavior combined with removing the source of it, i.e, stress, can be the only things needed to stop the bruxism. Unfortunately, a night guard is not a magic bullet; some people never get used to them, merely finding them on their pillow every morning. Ideally, like me, you want to be aware of your bruxism so you can prevent it.

Prevent Wearing a Night Guard with Behavior Modification

Many people can manage their bruxism with behavior modification, which I believe, is a crucial first step before jumping into a night guard.

Behavior modification for the prevention of bruxism is simply to allow your thoughts to imagine a relaxed jaw. You can use this technique anytime, before bed and during a stressful day. Your TMJ is in neutral position when your mandible is dropped to create a space between your teeth; if your teeth are touching the slightest your muscles tense up ready for action. Imagine the state of a peaceful meditation and repeat this mantra, “I am relaxed with my lips together and teeth apart.”

With behavior modification, you always want to think of the positive outcome; never state what you want in the negative, for example, don’t say, “Tonight I will not clench or grind.” Feel yourself completely relaxed with your jaw floating, and voila, if you state your intention, you’ll prevent bruxism, and if you do touch your teeth together you’ll catch yourself in the act, in which, all you need to do is repeat “Lips together, teeth apart.”

Over the Counter Night Guard

If relaxation and behavior modification techniques don’t work, you may want to try an over the counter night guard. Occasionally, rarely though, when I’m really stressed, I will put my night guard in while I’m reading in bed to force my TMJ into neutral position to relax it with a head start before my mantra. However, I take it out before I turn out the light, because I’m one of those who can never keep it in all night, and fortunately, the mantra works for me. Some of you may be comforted by a night guard guiding your TMJ into a neutral position. I recommend trying a SleepRight Dental Guard because you don’t have to shape it yourself (do not get the custom one), it’s comfortable, and you can save lots of money.

Click image to order dental guard

Many patients end up loving their over the counter night guard and never need the dentist to customize one for them. Although, when your dentist recommends a night guard, try asking what might be the cause of your bruxism. If you aleviate the cause, you will have a relaxed jaw.

*This blog contains affiliate links for products Ask My Hygienist carefully recommends based on professional experience or personal use. These suggestions are to assist you in your quest for better oral health, and in turn, you're assisting our blog with the small commission we receive from your purchase.

Author: Cari

Cari has been a practicing dental hygienist for over 30 years. She received her degree with honors and was selected for a rare internship at Eastman Dental School, Rochester, NY. She then went on to receive a BS in Social Work from Nazareth College, cum laude. She has practiced in a variety of offices in Santa Fe for almost 25 years, with dental hygiene experience that has spanned from public health to holistic private practice, to specializing in dental phobic patients. Her commitment to research with a life-long desire to learn is combined with her genuine drive to provide patients with a whole health knowledge base. Cari also brings her experience as a published writer to her role as an oral health blogger. She has written blogs and web pages for Beyond Borders Dental in her role as Director of Dental Relations and Education.

4 thoughts on “When Your Dentist Recommends a Night Guard”

  1. I just came across your blog. I was told by my dentist that I needed a night guard. I was frustrated when the price was out of my budget. With money tight these days, I think I’ll take your advice and try one from over the counter.
    Thanks Again!

  2. Thank you, I’ve just been looking for info about this subject for a while and yours is the best I have came upon so far. However, what in regards to the bottom line? Are you certain about the supply?

    1. So glad you found When a Dentist Recommends a Night Guard thorough and informative, I spend a lot of time thinking about content in my blogs. I noticed the link I provided is low on the SleepRight dental guards, so I will refresh the link with a better supply. It’s very fulfilling I could be of help.

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