Teeth grinding while you sleep is a common condition called bruxism. Some people also grind their teeth while awake if they're anxious or stressed. Teeth grinding can cause tooth damage over time and even lead to headaches, earaches, and sore jaw, neck, and face muscles. People often don't know they grind their teeth unless they suffer these telltale symptoms ... or a bedfellow elbows them in the night to stop. Fortunately, you can protect your teeth by wearing a grinding guard.
You have many options for over-the-counter teeth grinding guards, from disposable ones that you ditch after a single use to guards comparable to what your dentist would order. We'll help you navigate your options in this short shopping guide, which also includes our top recommendations. Our favorite guard is from J&S Dental because it offers professional-level protection without the need for a costly trip to the dentist.
Considerations when choosing teeth grinding guards
Types of guards
Disposable guards: Disposable guards only protect your back teeth and are designed to be tossed after one wear. They are highly affordable, but if you're using them nightly, your expense can rack up. What's more, they only come in one size.
Boil-and-bite guards: Unlike disposable teeth guards, boil-and-bite guards are molded to your teeth. The at-home process involves boiling the guard in water and biting it so it can mold around your teeth. Once the guard has cooled, you can then trim it. These are nice because they fit your mouth and cost relatively little.
Custom-fit guards: This type of guard is similar to what you'd get in your dentist's office. You perform an impression in the comfort of your own home, then send it to a lab that makes a precision-fit guard. These can be further customized for thickness and firmness. This type of guard costs the most, but often, the manufacturer will offer free unlimited adjustments until you get a perfect fit. Unlike other types of guards, custom-fit models can last you several years.
Material: We recommend choosing a teeth grinding guard made from latex-free and BPA-free plastic.
Upper vs. lower: Commonly, teeth grinding guards are worn on the top teeth. However, guards designed for the bottom teeth are also available (you wear either upper or lower, and not at the same time). Consider which ones fit better so the guard will stay in your mouth while you sleep.
Comfort: The most durable guards are hard and thick, but these aren't the most comfortable to wear. Guards that are thinner and/or softer are more comfortable, but not all companies offer a choice.
Teeth grinding guards range in price from $5 to $150. Disposable guards cost as little as $5. Boil-and-bite models cost between $7 and $70. For $70 and up, you can get custom-fit guards that are sent to a professional lab. Though these can cost as high as $150, spending that much usually isn't necessary.
Q. Is bruxism permanent?
A. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, can come and go. In some cases, it doesn't require treatment. It can also be difficult to diagnose.
Q. What causes teeth grinding in the first place?
A. Some dentists think it might be hereditary. If your mom or dad grind their teeth, chances are you do, too. There's not a known cause, but you're more at risk for developing this condition if you drink caffeine, smoke, consume alcohol, or take antidepressants. It's also associated with ADHD, epilepsy, sleep apnea, and GERD.
Teeth grinding guards we recommend
Best of the best: J&S Dental / Lab Dental Night Guard - Upper
Our take: A custom-fit guard that offers the fit and longevity you'd get from the dentist.
What we like: Manufacturer offers different levels of thickness and firmness and unlimited free adjustments. Will last up to five years.
What we dislike: Pricey, but also provides perfect fit and durability.
Best bang for your buck: Teeth Armor/Professional Dental Teeth Guard - Medium Firmness
Our take: A custom-fit guard at a more affordable price point.
What we like: Made from medical-grade materials in a dental lab. Mid-level firmness isn't too hard or too soft. Unlimited free adjustments for a perfect fit.
What we dislike: Only available in one thickness/hardness level.
Our take: Boil-and-bite guard in a value-priced four-pack.
What we like: You don't have to send guards out to a lab; you mold it to your teeth at home. Ideal for consumers who don't need nightly wear. Can fit top or bottom teeth.
What we dislike: Achieving a perfect fit may require multiple boilings.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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