Dental guards are essential tools for safeguarding your teeth and ensuring a peaceful night's sleep. They’re also known as night guards or mouthguards, and they play a pivotal role in protecting your teeth from grinding (bruxism) and clenching, which often occurs during sleep or, in some cases, even while you’re awake.
But investing in dental guards isn’t enough; using them correctly is important to make the most of your purchase. Needless to say, not everyone is using dental guards the proper way, and people usually encounter many pitfalls when using such guards. This leads to inadequate results, leading you to believe that your dental guards aren’t that helpful after all.
Therefore, it’s important to understand common dental guard mistakes and how to avoid them to maximize the benefits of these guards. This means you need to revisit everything from choosing the right type of dental guard to its proper maintenance and usage.
Whether you're a regular user or considering using dental guards for the first time, here’s how to ensure your dental guard experience is both effective and comfortable, promoting a healthy, happy smile!
Mistake No. 1: Choosing the Wrong Type of Dental Guard
Selecting the appropriate dental guard is fundamental to ensuring comfort and effectiveness. Dental guards come in three main types: stock or ready-made guards, boil and bite guards, and custom-fit guards. Stock guards are pre-made and often uncomfortable due to their generic design. Boil and bite guards, softened in hot water and then molded to your teeth, offer a better fit but may not be as precise or comfortable as custom guards.
Choosing the wrong type, perhaps due to cost considerations or lack of awareness, can impact your experience significantly. An ill-fitting guard might cause discomfort, interfere with your sleep, or even exacerbate teeth grinding. Conversely, a custom-fit guard is tailored to your mouth's unique contours, providing the best balance of comfort and protection. Understanding the differences and making an informed choice is crucial to reaping the benefits of a dental guard while avoiding unnecessary discomfort and potential dental issues.
Mistake No. 2: Incorrect Sizing and Fit
Ensuring the correct sizing and fit of a dental guard is paramount for its effectiveness and user comfort. An improperly sized dental guard can cause significant discomfort, making it challenging to wear consistently. Discomfort may stem from a guard being too tight, causing pain and irritation, or too loose, which can lead to ineffective protection.
An incorrectly sized dental guard can also fail to deliver on its intended purpose. For instance, a guard that is too loose may not effectively prevent teeth grinding or clenching during sleep. On the other hand, if it's too tight, it may inadvertently promote further clenching or grinding due to discomfort.
Therefore, investing time in getting the right size and fit is essential. Custom-made guards, molded precisely to your teeth, offer a superior fit compared to generic alternatives. The right fit ensures the guard's effectiveness in protecting your teeth and maximizes your comfort, promoting consistent usage and overall oral health.
Mistake 3: Poor Cleaning and Maintenance
Maintaining good hygiene for dental guards is crucial for their efficacy and longevity. Neglecting regular cleaning can accumulate bacteria, plaque, and food particles on the guard's surface. Over time, this buildup can compromise the guard's integrity and hygiene, potentially causing oral health issues and an unpleasant odor.
Proper cleaning involves rinsing the dental guard after use and following the dentist or manufacturer's recommended cleaning instructions. Typically, it involves using a mild soap or toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush to gently clean the guard. Storing it in a clean, dry case is equally important to prevent bacterial growth.
Failing to maintain hygiene can impact the guard and your oral health. Bacteria can transfer from the guard to your mouth, potentially causing gum irritation, bad breath, or even infections. Therefore, incorporating a routine for cleaning and maintenance is crucial to ensure the guard remains effective and contributes positively to your oral hygiene.
Mistake 4: Neglecting Regular Replacements
Dental guards, like any other oral appliance, endure wear and tear due to daily use. Over time, they can become less effective and less comfortable due to changes in their structure, hygiene, or resilience. Neglecting to replace a dental guard at the appropriate intervals can compromise its ability to protect your teeth effectively.
The materials in dental guards can wear down with continuous use, especially if you suffer from bruxism or teeth grinding. They might lose their shape or thickness, reducing their ability to absorb the pressure and protect your teeth adequately.
It's essential to follow your dentist's recommendations regarding when to replace your dental guard. Typically, they suggest replacements every six months to a year or sooner if signs of wear are evident. Investing in regular replacements ensures you maintain optimal protection for your teeth and get the most benefit from your dental guard, safeguarding your oral health effectively.
Mistake 5: Not Following Usage Instructions
Adhering to the usage instructions for your dental guard is paramount to ensure its effectiveness and your overall oral health. Dental guards are specifically designed to be worn and used in a particular manner, aligning with the intended purpose and the unique features of the guard. Deviating from these instructions can lead to a range of potential problems.
Not following the recommended usage guidelines might result in discomfort or even pain during use. For instance, wearing the guard for extended durations beyond the recommended time can strain your jaw muscles and affect your bite. On the other hand, wearing it for insufficient periods might not provide the necessary protection against teeth grinding or clenching.
It's crucial to carefully read and understand the usage instructions provided with your dental guard. If you have any concerns or questions about the correct way to use it, consult the dental lab you got it from.
Mistake 6: Disregarding Comfort for Affordability
One common but significant mistake when it comes to dental guards is prioritizing affordability over comfort. While budget considerations are important, disregarding comfort can have long-term consequences. Dental guards are meant to be worn regularly, often nightly, and opting for a cheap but uncomfortable one might discourage consistent use.
Investing in a comfortable dental guard is an investment in your well-being. A comfortable guard ensures you won't experience discomfort or irritation, promoting regular usage and effectiveness in protecting your teeth from grinding or clenching. A well-fitted, comfortable guard doesn't disrupt your sleep, allowing you to reap the benefits of a good night's rest.
While looking for cost-effective options is understandable, striking a balance between cost and comfort is essential. Look for reputable brands that offer both a comfortable fit and a reasonable price. Remember, the long-term benefits of a comfortable dental guard far outweigh the short-term savings, ensuring a healthier mouth and a more restful night's sleep.
If you’re not sure where to find the best options for dentist-recommended mouthguards for teeth grinding, let us help. At Clear Comfort Night Guards, we have some of the best custom night guards online, and our team can also guide you toward the best dental guard practices.
Get in touch with us to learn more.