When selecting a night guard, “consult with a dentist who can oversee your treatment and make recommendations specific to your symptoms,” recommends Dr. Hales. The following factors are critical criteria to consider when choosing a night guard, according to Brijesh Chandwani, D.M.D., an attending dentist at St. Barnabas Hospital, based in Bronx, New York.
Fit and Comfort
“Pain from the night guard usually implies that the physical therapeutic effect of the night guard is not occurring,” suggests Dr. Chandwani. When assessing the usability and comfort levels of a night guard, you should first weigh the available fit variations. Fit has a direct effect on comfortability, along with the product style, shape and materials used to design the night guard. It’s important to consider these factors when narrowing your product choices.
There are usually “three [material texture] choices [for night guards]: soft, hard and dual-laminated,” according to Keith Kohrs, D.D.S., a Colorado-based orthodontist. Soft night guards typically utilize “soft acrylic material,” hard night guards are typically designed using “a copolyester material or acrylic,” and dual-laminated night guards are typically made with copolyester and EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate),” explains Dr. Kohrs.
When assessing the material makeup of a mouth guard, you’ll also want to ensure that the materials used are safe and well-tested for harmful chemicals. Select providers offer BPA-free night guards, for instance.
Choose a night guard that won’t block the airways, recommends Dr. Chandwani. “If someone has a large tongue, I usually decide on a night guard on the top teeth,” says Dr. Chandwani. “If someone has a very small palate, I usually decide on a bottom night guard,” he adds. You can always consult with a dentist on what’s best for your facial structure.
The wrong night guard may cause your teeth to shift, which could possibly lead to the development of a crooked smile. This especially applies to patients in the adolescent stages of life. The night guard’s material can make a huge difference in how well it protects your smile, which a dentist can further advise you on. “In young patients, I prefer a hard night guard as they can work as retainers also and prevent shifting of teeth,” adds Dr. Chandwani.