Seek advice regarding coping with dental night guard.
December 26, 2020 5:20 PM   Subscribe

I've been prescribed a dental night guard. Have you ever had to cope with a night guard?

It is bulky and uncomfortable. I feel like there is no room for my tongue, and so it gives me an "I'm-about-to-swallow-my-tongue" sensation. It is very tight and puts a lot of uncomfortable pressure on my front teeth. I've heard of people removing their night guards in their sleep, but I would never be able to do so with this one because it is so difficult to remove that sometimes it seems it might be stuck! I'm a light sleeper and have not had success so far in wearing it all night; it is uncomfortable and hurts a little and makes me feel like I can't breath. Do you have any advice?
posted by SageTrail to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, I know exactly how you feel! I remember the first time I put in a night guard, I lay there in the dark not being able to sleep because I was just getting more and more frustrated and angry about this obstruction in my mouth. I had to talk myself down like a toddler. I think the first few times I took it out in my sleep, but I got used to it by the first week; it really got dramatically easier night after night. Falling asleep on my side helped find a place for my tongue, at least when it was new. Also, mine is the custom, hard plastic kind, so it's smaller than something bought off the shelf, which may make a difference in your particular case. In short - keep trying and give it time.
posted by Atrahasis at 5:29 PM on December 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

Have you talked to your dentist about the fit? Clearly it doesn't fit correctly, and one that does will be easy to wear. It should not be tight to the point of discomfort, and it shouldn't put uncomfortable pressure on your front teeth.

I had one that fit poorly so I never wore it. Later I switched dentists and the new dentist made me a new one that fits great and I wear it religiously. It's made a world of difference for my teeth grinding, headaches and jaw tightness.
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:30 PM on December 26, 2020 [16 favorites]

I got one of those hard outer/soft inner models at the dentist. Same as BlahLaLa — huge health improvement. My experience with over the counter/DIY models was that it was not much different a feel from boxing mouthguards (fine awake, couldn’t sleep in it).
posted by cupcakeninja at 5:44 PM on December 26, 2020

It got much easier for me when I got my dentist to switch from upper to lower teeth. The very tight fit will loosen over time -- they break in, like shoes.
posted by shadygrove at 6:00 PM on December 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

I know someone who had the same problem with bulkiness and no room for their tongue. They spoke with the dentist, who had the lab remake it (no additional charge). I believe it is also one of those with a harder outside / softer inside.

The person mentioned that they got fitted (the cast) made as late as possible in the day, because that gave their teeth more time to "recover" from a night of potential clenching/shifting and move back into their more "normal" positions.
posted by dancing leaves at 6:05 PM on December 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

What kind do you have?

I've used one which was hard on the outside and soft inside and it was great.

Definitely talk to your dentist about the fit. There might be some things which can be altered (eg. my dentist trimmed down the outside part slightly where my molars meet) and part of it might also just be a matter of getting used to it.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 6:39 PM on December 26, 2020

nth-ing talk to your dentist and see if there is anything they can do to modify the guard.

i had the same issue and mine was a custom-fit guard provided by my dentist. i had to work up to wearing it all night. i'm not a light sleeper but i have insomnia and any change in my nightly routine pretty much means i dont sleep.

i would put it in about an hour before bedtime and wear it for as long as i could stand it and then take it out. slowly i was able to wear it longer and longer. i took some aleve every day during this time for the discomfort. now i can wear it all night easily with no discomfort.
posted by mmtaylor at 6:48 PM on December 26, 2020

Yes, talk to your dentist. There is a breaking in period - I have had two night guards and both took a few nights before I was comfortable sleeping with them. Now it's a security blanket - the two weeks after I broke my first girard, I couldn't sleep without it. Never would have guessed based on how weird it felt at first.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:56 PM on December 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

It took me quite a while to get used to mine and be able to wear it all night. (A lot more than a few nights, maybe even a couple of months or more.) But it did help with the tooth grinding, so eventually I reached the point where I began to feel more comfortable with it in - most of the time. I still find I sometimes have nights when it starts bugging me and I take it out partway through the night.
posted by Redstart at 7:09 PM on December 26, 2020

Response by poster: More info: Mine is custom-made, from the dentist, and is hard all over vs hard on outside, soft on inside.
posted by SageTrail at 7:27 PM on December 26, 2020

I have a custom hard all over. 1. Seconding others that you want to check with your dentist about fit—mine ground mine until it was relatively comfortable in my mouth. 2. Per the hygienist recommendation, I run mine under hot water—really hot from the tap, not boiling—for about 30 seconds or so. Makes it more malleable so I adjust to the feel in my mouth rather than feeling instantly tight. I put it in the case and run the water because the water is hot enough that holding the guard under the stream isn’t comfortable for that long.
posted by HonoriaGlossop at 7:38 PM on December 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

My custom, hard bite guard felt too bulky on the outside surface. I filed down the outer surfaces, now much more comfortable. I wear it every night and never notice it.
posted by H21 at 8:19 PM on December 26, 2020

I’ve been a night guard wearer for nearly 30 years. Some fit better than others right out of the gate, and my dentists have always done a fit check after a couple of weeks. A couple of times they’ve ground down some of the guard in places to make the fit more comfortable and better for my teeth. I don’t recommend you do it yourself, but take it back to your dentist and get them to do it.

It’s a weird feeling, getting used to wearing one. Occasionally, even after all these years, I still have dreams where I’ve got some kind of gum or caramel on my teeth and my dream self is trying mightily to dislodge it. I’ve never removed it in my sleep.

I’m religious about wearing mine though. My jaw hurts a lot if I skip even one night, amd I honestly think I’d have cracked my teeth or ground them to stumps long ago otherwise. It’s worth it to go back and make sure the fit is good, while also giving yourself a little while to adjust.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:17 PM on December 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: With your support and encouragement, I was able to keep my mouth guard in all night last night! I had some weird, vivid dreams that I don't usually have, but I actually woke up less often, and my jaw feels much better this morning than it did pre mouth guard. I do suspect that there is possibly too much pressure on two of my front teeth, so if that feeling continues, I will speak to my dentist about it. Thank you so much, everyone!
posted by SageTrail at 7:38 AM on December 27, 2020 [8 favorites]

I have 25 years of experience with dental guards and TMJ, and I have had multiple hard dental guards like you describe. For me, these tended to make my teeth hurt, and I was never satisfied. You may thus want to explore other options if yours remains uncomfortable.

For about the past 10 years I have used a non-customized guard called SleepRight that is self-adjusting. Because it does not click into place like the hard guards, it will only work for you if you do not spit it out. You may want to give it a try, as it is very comfortable. I spit out the hard guards in my sleep because they were so uncomfortable, but this one I can keep in all night.

The other thing that was very worthwhile for me was doing biofeedback with a device called SleepGuard to reduce clenching and grinding. Not many dentists are familiar with the biofeedback option, but it drastically reduced my clenching. The device consists of a headband that can tell if you are clenching, and it makes a soft beep until you unclench. After a month or so of using this, I was not clenching very much anymore.

I also found reading the book Taking Control of TMJ by Robert Uppgaard to be quite insightful. You might want to seek out a copy as well.
posted by mortaddams at 11:03 AM on December 27, 2020 [3 favorites]

Great to hear you were able to get through the night with your night guard! Another option that really helped me is an NTI night guard. Instead of covering all your teeth, an NTI is very small and snaps on to your front two teeth only. By creating a barrier between my top and bottom front teeth it leaves an air gap between my molars, so there's no surface to grind or clench down on. I had a terrible time with clenching and chewing on my old night guard and would wake up with jaw pain and headaches but the NTI has helped train my jaw to relax at night, practically eliminating the headaches. In the year that I've had it, the NTI has slightly changed my bite, so your dentist should check your bite at your regular appointments, but I highly recommend looking into it for bruxism/ tmj issues.
posted by platinum at 3:15 PM on December 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

YMMV, etc, but... I had a series of dentist-created custom nightguards over the years until I started buying cheap mouthguards from my local sporting-goods store. I'd form them to my mouth (softening them up in boiling water) then cut them way down so they covered just the surfaces between my teeth. They lasted a long time, cost about $5, and were as minimal as I wanted.
posted by booth at 10:57 AM on December 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

I had one of those giant hard ones at first and hated it. I would take it out in the middle of the night. I got the dentist to replace it with a smaller/softer one. Dentists have told me that the harder ones are better for you, but honestly if I'm not going to wear it than what's the point?
posted by radioamy at 1:13 PM on December 28, 2020

I have the hard all over ones from the dentist for more than a decade now, and the last one they made me did not fit properly at all. It was for top teeth, while the one it was replacing (that the dog ate) was for the bottom teeth. They remade it for me for the bottom and all is well.

I wear a top mouthguard for a sport I play, so having the lower teeth in something rather than the upper ones is a nice change of pace and much more comfortable for me.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 10:21 AM on January 4, 2021

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