Unfortunately, according to research carried out by the American Dental Association, bruxism affects more than 40 million Americans. Roughly speaking, one-third of that is children, while 20% are adults. Bruxism is a condition that causes nighttime teeth grinding and jaw clenching. It’s not life-threatening, but it can cause jaw pain, chronic headaches and result in chipped teeth. The condition is also linked to poor sleep quality. The cure for teeth grinding in sleep still hasn’t been found, but most sleepers affected by this condition find relief by using specialized mouthguards. Mouthguards for bruxism are designed to reduce teeth grinding and jaw clenching while asleep.
Some anti-bruxism mouthguards can be customized to fit the individual needs of the wearer. However, most common are universal fit models, also known as boil and bite models. Each type of anti-grinding mouthguard has particular advantages and disadvantage. The price range also varies, but most models, even when they are customized, cost less than $100.
In this guide, you will find our top picks for best mouthguards for nocturnal teeth grinding, as well as some considerations and shopping tips for first-time buyers. As always, our choices are based on verified customer reviews and product research. To create this guide and our top list, we consulted with six sleep experts and spent 70 hours of research.
Dental Duty Professional Dental Guard (Boil-and-Bite)
Key features: BPA free plastic, adjustable, versatile functionality, FDA approved
The Dental Duty Professional mouth guard is a versatile sleep bruxism mouthguard that effectively reduces teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Apart from this, it also helps to whiten teeth, and it can also be used by athletes or as a mouthguard for sports such as football or wrestling. Boil and bite mouthguards typically come in one size, but this model can be trimmed to provide a more customized fit to its users. One of the advantages of using the Dental Duty Professional Dental Guard is that it’s made from BPA-free materials.
Discomfort is a common complaint associated with boil-and-bite mouthguards; however, this product is very soft and comfortable. When it comes to price, a box of four is available for only $20 or less. The product comes with a 30 days sleep trial and a money-back guarantee. Lastly, the anti-bruxism guard comes with a protective case suitable for traveling.
- Sleepers who don’t need customized mouthguards
- Sportsmen such as football players and wrestlers
- Those who are looking for teeth-whitening mouthguards
- Bruxism sufferers that frequently travel
- Those looking for a fair price
DentalCare Labs Teeth Grinding Mouthguard (Boil-and-Bite Model)
Key features: BPA and latex-free plastic, adjustable, versatile design, FDA approved, medium density for optimum comfort, 30 days sleep trial with a 100% satisfaction guarantee
If you are looking for budget-friendly teeth grinding mouthguard, DentalCare Labs mouthguard may be the right choice. One purchase will cost you less than $10 and includes four boil and bite pieces and a protective carrying case. This device can also be used for teeth whitening and to protect the user’s mouth and teeth during sports and athletic competitions.
The four mouthguards from DentalCare Labs come in two sizes, and each piece can be trimmed for a customized fit. This way, every buyer will be able to use the product regardless of the shape and size of their mouth, or the alignment of their teeth. The device has its own protective case that is suitable for carrying everywhere you go or frequent traveling. The product comes with a 30 days sleep trial and a full satisfaction guarantee.
- Sleepers who don’t require customized mouthguards
- Athletes and sportsmen such as football players and wrestlers
- Those who are looking for teeth-whitening mouthguards
- Families with multiple nocturnal teeth grinders
- Bruxism sufferers who travel a lot
Pro Teeth Guard (Custom Mouthguard)
Key features: Easy molding and customization, durable design, two layers – laminate and acrylic, 110% satisfaction guarantee, two month sleep trial
Many people who use fitted anti-bruxism mouthguards complain that the devices are hard to customize. The Pro Teeth Guard mouthguard is considered one of the best custom night guard because it comes with a home impression kit. By using the home impression kit, you can easily create the mold on your own and send it to the company’s dental lab. After this, you will receive custom night guard by mail in a few days.
The product is very durable – it’s made from professional dental industry materials – laminate and acrylic. Mouthguards made from these materials will last much longer than standard boil-and-bite models. Each piece is created from 3mm thick dual-laminate; the outer layer is made from hard acrylic to increase durability, while the inner layer is made from soft laminate to ensure a comfortable fit.
The Pro Teeth Guard also comes with a 2-month sleep trial and a 110% satisfaction guarantee. In case you are not satisfied, you will receive a full refund. Shipping is free, and a prescription is not required.
- Sleepers who need customized mouthguards
- Those with severe bruxism symptoms
- Buyers with bigger budgets
Teeth Armor Custom Teeth Night Guard (Custom Model)
Key features: Laminate material, easy molding, and customization, unlimited adjustments, full satisfaction guarantee
Some nighttime teeth grinders prefer universal fit mouthguards because custom fit models may be problematic when their teeth shift. When teeth move, they have to purchase another fitted mouthguard for bruxism. Teeth Armor understands this problem, and that is why they offer unlimited adjustments to their buyers. Thanks to unlimited adjustments, you will save a lot of money in the long run. The process of customization is very fast and convenient. All you need to do to get your own fitted mouthguard is to make a mold using an at-home kit and send your impression to the company by using a prepaid mailing sticker.
The Teeth Armor night guard is made from laminate, meaning it will last much longer than standard models. The density of the device is medium and should be comfortable for everyday use. The product is available at a very affordable price and comes with a full money-back satisfaction guarantee. According to our research, we consider it one of the best custom mouthguards.
- Sleepers who prefer customized mouthguards
- Those with severe bruxism symptoms
- Sleepers with sensitive jaws and teeth
Best Mouthguards for Bruxism – Buying Guide
As mentioned in the beginning, around 20% of adults in the US experience bruxism, or nocturnal teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Bruxism is more common in children than adults, and according to some surveys and research, one-third of parents report that one of their kids grinds teeth on a regular basis. Bruxism is not a life-threatening condition, but it can lead to jaw pain, chronic headaches, and chipped teeth.
It’s also important to mention that new medical research suggests there is a link between sleep bruxism and sleep apnea, a condition characterized by temporary loss of breath during sleep. To reduce the symptoms and consequences of nocturnal teeth grinding, many people rely on mouthguards. Some night guards can be customized according to the user’s mouth shape, size and teeth alignment while other models have a universal fit. To receive a customized model, the purchaser will have to make an impression of their teeth and send it to the company. The night guards are usually prepared in dental laboratories. Some custom fit models don’t require an impression, and they are known as ‘boil and bite’ mouthguards or non-customized stock mouthguards. Since they don’t require an impression of the user’s mouth, they are typically less expensive. Most of those universal fit models can also be trimmed to adjust the size a little bit. Most of these devices are over-the-counter mouthguards, meaning they don’t require a prescription. Now when we know the basics, we can take a closer look at common mouthguard designs, and some tips for first-time buyers. But, before we begin, we should explore some of the most common causes and consequences of chronic bruxism.
Causes, Symptoms, and Effects of Bruxism
There are two types of teeth grinding – sleep and awake bruxism. Both can cause the same level of physical damage, but there is one key difference. Sleep bruxism ends once the person wakes up, and the symptoms gradually improve over the day. In case of awake bruxism, it can last or get worse throughout the entire day. Bruxism activity varies by patient, but on an average level, patients experience multiple episodes of teeth grinding at night. Each event consists of RMMA, also known as rhythmic masticatory muscle activity. RMMA is characterized by jaw muscle activity that occurs at a specific rate per second and sporadic tooth grinding through the night. Most nocturnal teeth grinding episodes occur during light sleep phases such as sleep arousal.
When it comes to classification, bruxism is a parafunctional activity, meaning a specific body part, in this case, the jaw muscles, are doing something habitually, even though that action is not their intended primary function. Many sleep experts debate whether bruxism is a subconscious habit or an involuntary activity. The cause of teeth grinding is still unknown, but researchers have determined multiple factors that may cause, exacerbate or contribute to this condition. Typically, at least two of the following factors are present in a patient. If multiple factors are present, they will exacerbate the effects of nocturnal bruxism.
Nervous System Abnormalities
Our sleep stages are controlled by our natural sleep cycle, also known as circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is regulated by various neurotransmitters and mechanisms that affect sleep arousal episodes. Sleep arousal episodes occur when an individual experience changes in their sleep depth. In case an individual has abnormalities in their central nervous system, he or she won’t be able to regulate these mechanisms properly, and automatically becomes more susceptible to bruxism episodes. Teeth grinding mostly occur during the periods of sleep arousal.
Although many adults experience nighttime teeth grinding, the condition is more common in children. However, the good news is that most kids with bruxism recover by age 18.
Research has shown that the condition is hereditary, meaning people with bruxism have at least one parent or child affected by this condition. The specific genetic markers have still not been identified, but researchers have concluded that people with sleep bruxism are more likely to have children with sleep bruxism compared to those with no bruxism or awake bruxism.
According to research, smokers are twice as likely to develop bruxism than nonsmokers. Since nicotine affects the production of dopamine and stimulates the brain, it may contribute to the development of nocturnal teeth grinding episodes. However, this only applies to regular smokers.
Using certain medications, such as dopamine agonists and antagonists, amphetamines or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may worsen the symptoms of nighttime teeth grinding. Reducing the daily dosage of these prescribed drugs should also decrease the signs of sleep bruxism.
Recreational Drug Use
Recreational drugs, especially the ones that act as stimulants, may cause bruxism or exacerbate the symptoms of this condition. Medication that has been linked to teeth grinding is MDMA or ecstasy. It’s noted that people who use ecstasy experience bruxism episodes for several days. Other drugs that also may cause or affect nighttime sleep grinding is cocaine.
Chronic teeth grinding has long been associated to stressful lifestyles. However, a direct link between the two still hasn’t been found. Similarly, there is a link between alcohol consumption and sleep bruxism development, but more research is required to establish a clear connection.
Medical and mental disorders such as sleep apnea, night terrors, Parkinson’s disease, GERD and epilepsy are also associated with teeth grinding in sleep.
Sleep apnea is a well-known medical condition that unfortunately affects millions of Americans. A temporary loss of breath during sleep characterizes the disorder, and individuals may experience multiple sleep apnea episodes per night. Usually, the episodes last more than a few seconds. People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are more prone to bruxism than people with central sleep apnea (CSA).
Night terrors are characterized by sudden awakenings that can trigger irrational feelings of fear or panic. Night terror attacks usually occur half an hour or three hours before the affected person falls asleep. The condition is much more common in children, but adults can also experience it.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that is characterized by hand tremors, and in later stages, inability to control speech and motor functions. The cure for this disease still hasn’t been found. However, patients may find relief or improve their condition through prescribed medication and surgical procedures.
Dementia is a condition characterized by a group of medical symptoms that affect memory through cognitive and psychological changes. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It only affects older adults.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a digestive disorder that affects the muscles between the esophagus and the stomach. It is characterized by the return of the stomach’s contents back to the esophagus. When stomach acid enters the throat, it causes backwash and irritates the stomach lining. Most people with this disease experience acid reflux at least once per week.
Epilepsy is a disorder of the nervous system that is characterized by frequent seizures. The seizures can range in intensity, and lead to complete temporary loss of awareness to loss of motor functions. The attacks are also characterized by severe twitching in the arms and legs. Patients are typically not diagnosed with epilepsy unless they have experienced at least two seizures.
The attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is found in children, but can also affect adults. Common side effects of this disorder are an inability to concentrate, impulsive behavior and hyperactivity.
Symptoms of Bruxism
In case the proportions between the upper and lower jaw are not equal, physical contact easily occurs. However, this is not the primary cause of bruxism. It is possible that some people with malocclusion may grind their teeth, but if they don’t experience night-to-night grinding, they don’t have sleep bruxism.
Some of the most common symptoms of chronic bruxism include:
- Loud teeth grinding
- Jaw clenching
- Damaged teeth
- Worn tooth enamel
- Tooth pain and sensitivity
- Teeth damage (cracked, chipped teeth)
- Jaw pain
- Face pain
It’s important to mention that teeth grinding and jaw clenching can be so loud that it may wake up the person’s sleeping partner. When it comes to damaged teeth, they are mostly chipped. Damage can also include flattening, fracturing, or loosening of the teeth. Tooth enamel is also worn out which leads to tooth pain and sensitivity. Due to jaw clenching, the affected person an experience jaw pain and soreness. This pain typically leads to locked jaw symptoms or inability to completely open and close the jaw. Due to jaw clenching, some people with nocturnal teeth grinding also experience face and neck pain or something that feels like an earache.
Chronic bruxism can also cause headaches due to prolonged jaw clenching. The headaches typically begin at the temples and move inward. The clenching and teeth grinding can sometimes be so hard that the affected person has cuts and sores from biting the inner cheek.
Dentists can easily observe the signs of bruxism during a dental exam. In case the symptoms are detected, the dentist will schedule more appointments to track the progress of the condition. If the condition is progressing, the patient may have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Tooth damage, such as cracked or missing teeth
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw
- Damage to bones and cheek muscles inside the mouth
In case the patient is suffering from sleep bruxism, it is critical to determine if the condition is linked to or caused by other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. In some cases, a dentist may refer the patient to a sleep clinic. In the case the bruxism is caused by stress, anxiety or another psychological disorder, the patient may be referred to visit a licensed therapist.
Most adults don’t require treatment, and if children are affected, they typically outgrow their symptoms by age 18. Dental therapy and medication are only prescribed in severe cases. The most common type of treatment involves using a mouth guard for clenching. Wearing a mouthguard is non-invasive, and in most cases, solves the problem or at least prevents further teeth damage. If mouthguards are ineffective, other forms of treatment, such as corrective dental surgery may be required.
Anti-Bruxism Mouthguards Characteristics
Mouthguards are used to reduce symptoms of sleep bruxism and prevent further damage. In case you are interested in buying an anti-grinding guard, you should know that there is a wide range of models available. Every user can find a piece that fits his or hers personal needs and preferences. Generally speaking, three mouthguard types are available.
Custom impression mouthguards: Custom dental anti-grinding guards are created by using an impression of the patient’s mouth. In most cases, you don’t need a prescription from your dentist. Many companies allow purchasers to make an impression using an at-home-kit and to send it back to the company’s manufacturing facility. Short after sending their dental impression, the purchaser will receive his own customized mouthguard via mail. Due to their specific design, customized mouthguards deliver the best results. However, they also tend to be more expensive than universal fit models, and can even exceed hundreds of dollars.
Boil-and-bite models: Boil-and-bite pieces look very similar to athletic mouthpieces used in sports like football, basketball, and wrestling. The devices are made from a thermoplastic material that softens once put in boiled water. In order to use this type of night guard, you need to put in boiling water, and once it softens, you have to bite it to create a customized dental impression. These anti-grinding devices are not as sophisticated as custom dental models, but they are a lot cheaper and affordable to every budget.
Stock mouthguard pieces: Lastly, stock models are ‘one size fits all’ and do not use a customized impression. They are not expensive, but might not provide the user as much as satisfaction as the other two models. User ratings and reviews are mixed.
Sleep Bruxism Mouthpieces Design
When it comes to design, they can be created either for the top or bottom layer of the teeth, never both. People with bruxism should only use two guards together just in case their dentists advised them this way. Anti-bruxism devices consist of two layers – a softer and a more rigid one. The thin layer cushions the teeth, and decreases discomfort, while the rigid layer is there to prevent teeth grinding. Some models may be slanted at the front to reduce contact between the device and the sensitive areas of the mouth such as the lips and the gums. Dimensions vary, and most devices can be somehow adjusted or trimmed to fir the individual preferences of the user. When it comes to weight, the pieces are very light, and typically weigh around 10 ounces.
Whenever you are not using your mouthpiece, it is very important to keep it clean. Most models come with a sterilizing tray or a protective hygienic case. The pieces are mostly cleaned with warm water, or they can be gently brushed by using toothpaste and a toothbrush. The protective case should always be cleaned and dry inside. To prevent bacteria and dirt build up, it should also be kept closed. When it comes to composition, most anti-bruxism mouthguards are made from durable materials that won’t crack or deteriorate fast. The used materials are always free of latex, BPAs, and other harmful materials. However, some manufacturers may use materials that are not FDA approved, and it’s recommended to double check the composition to be sure. Apart from preventing teeth grinding, some models may be used as athletic mouthpieces or as teeth whitening trays.
Important Considerations for First-Time Buyers
If you are thinking about purchasing mouthguards for teeth clenching, take a look at our list of considerations for first-time buyers. This short guide should help you when comparing different brands and models.
What is the price of the nightguard? Most mouthpieces are inexpensive, but if you are looking for a customized model, you should definitely set your budget because some pieces go up to $500. However, simpler boil-and-bite models or stock pieces cost as little as $20 or even less.
Does the product come with one or more pieces? Some mouthguards are sold individually, but there are also some that are sold in a pack of two or four. Multiple packs also offer different sizes, so it may be suitable if you have more than one teeth grinder in your family.
Is the device a universal fit or custom made? As mentioned before, anti-bruxism mouthpieces can be molded or one-size-fits-all. Most people with sleep bruxism prefer custom mouthguards that can be molded according to their dental impression because these models are the most comfortable.
Can the night teeth guard be trimmed? Customized dental models cannot be trimmed, but boil-and-bite models, as well as stock pieces, can be cut a bit at the edges to fit the user’s mouth better. Custom dental mouthguards cannot be trimmed because they are designed with unique specifications of the patient.
Is the anti-bruxism sleep aid heavy or light? Most mouthpieces are light and weigh around 10 ounces. However, this still may feel heavy for some users and cause discomfort. If that is your case, you should look for models that weigh four ounces or less.
Does the brand offer different designs? Some manufacturers may offer different designs and tray sizes for men and women. “Male” mouthguards typically have larger trays than “female” nightguards. When buying this type of product, it’s important to check all the information to ensure the mouthpiece is designed for you, and not the opposite gender.
What is the material composition of the product? Depending on the type of the mouthguard, different materials and layers may be used. Custom dental mouthguards have two layers. The first layer is soft and made from acrylic or similar materials, and it cushions the teeth and provides comfort. The second bottom layer is rigid and made from laminate or related materials. The rigid layer prevents teeth grinding and damage. Cheaper models have only one layer, the rigid one. When buying a sleep bruxism night guard, you should ensure all the used materials are FDA approved, latex and BPA-free.
Is the mouthguard transparent? Even though they wear it only at night during sleep, some people prefer to use transparent mouthguards that are not so obvious and easy to see. For other individuals, this factor may not be so important.
How is the mouthpiece cleaned? All anti-bruxism devices must be cleaned on a regular basis. Most models are very easy to maintain, and only require daily washing in warm water. However, some specialty models that are more expensive may need more time to clean; therefore proper maintenance may be a bit time-consuming. All nightguards must be stored in a protective case, and it is also essential to keep that case clean and dry.
Does the mouthguard have other functions except preventing bruxism? Many models can also be used as teeth whitening trays or as athletic mouthpieces during rough sports such as football and wrestling. If you are a sportsman or a sportswoman, it’s a good idea to invest in a model that has multiple functions.
Does the mouthguard require a mailed impression? Typically, custom dental mouthguards are designed by making a dental impression at home (by using an at-home-kit) and then sending it to the company. The costs of mailing your dental impression are in most cases free. The same applies to shipping. Most manufacturers will have your custom model ready within ten days or less. Although rare, some companies and brands may ask for a shipping fee, so it is best to check all the details carefully before your purchase.
Is there a trial period? Many anti-bruxism mouthguards come with trial periods, and allow the buyer to return the product within a specific time frame and get a full refund. The trial may last from 30 to 365 nights. However, you should also notice that some brands don’t offer a trial period or a money back guarantee at all.
A wannabe journalist who somehow ended up as an art historian. She is a gamer, a coffee addict and a sleep aficionado. When she is not researching about sleep and finding out new ways to fight off the insomnia beast, she’s spending time with her friends, gaming or visiting local museums.