Mouth guards and night guards both serve one basic function – to protect your teeth and mouth overall. So can a mouth guard be worn at night to protect against bruxism? Let’s take a closer look at both to answer this question.
A night guard is specifically meant to protect teeth from grinding and clenching during sleep. It is worn every night or any time the wearer goes to sleep. A mouth guard, on the other hand, is prescribed to protect athletes and other individuals from damage such as a blow to the jaw during physical activities such as rugby, boxing or gymnastics.
Because of their specific uses, mouth guards and night guards are made of different materials. A night guard only needs to protect against grinding and clenching during a specific period of time (sleep), so the material used for it – a durable hard acrylic plastic – is not very thick, but solid enough to serve its function. Mouth guards are put under more stress, and must spread and cover the entire jaw, including the gums, to ensure that the entire mouth is protected. For this reason, it is made of a heavier but softer material.
Mouth guards must be able to absorb the force of sudden impact, spreading it out so that no one area of the mouth receives all of the weight and protecting it against injury. A mouth guard must cover the entire mouth so that all parts are protected. Night guards are only intended to protect the surface of the teeth from wear and tear caused by continuous clenching and grinding, so it only needs to cover the occlusal surface. The material it’s made from can withstand the grinding motions of bruxism, but cannot handle impact as a mouth guard can.
It is generally pretty easy to find a mouth guard in stores, but they may not fit very well. If you’re going to try to use it as a night guard, then, it can be painful to wear and therefore not effective. An effective night guard must be custom-made at a dentist office, providing the best fit and best level of protection.
Using a mouth guard as a night guard can be done, but it might not be the best choice since they serve different functions. Additionally, if the mouth guard is not custom-made, it will not fit the way it should to protect the teeth at night.