Should I wear an upper or lower nightguard?
If you grind your teeth at nighttime, you should wear a nightguard. Wearing a nightguard helps protect your teeth from cracking and breaking. It also protects your tooth restorations, jaw joint (TMJ), and facial muscles. Heavy tooth grinders and those with actual symptoms, such as persistent headaches or a history of tooth fracture, should highly consider wearing a custom nightguard.
Before you go ahead and purchase a fancy nightguard, you need to decide between an upper or lower nightguard? And no, you can’t wear both an upper and lower nightguard at the same time (this would be considered a sleep apnea device)! This means that you need to choose whether you’re going to wear an upper or lower nightguard. So which is the best option for you and your mouth? Here’s how to decide:
Lower night guard is the default choice
Wearing a lower nightguard is considered the standard by most dentists. A lower nightguard is usually more comfortable to wear. It is also less likely to fall out of your mouth due to gravitational forces. Plus, wearing a lower night guard directly protects your TMJ and lower jaw. We recommend that you go with a lower nightguard, unless there’s a reason not to do so.
When to wear an upper nightguard
There are a few cases where you should opt to wear an upper nightguard instead of a lower one. Here are a few common examples of when wearing an upper nightguard is a more suitable option for your mouth:
(1) Multiple missing lower teeth
If you’re missing a few lower teeth, then it’s going to be difficult to wear a lower nightguard. After all, you need to have enough teeth within the arch to stabilize your nightguard in its place. Having a few missing teeth makes it more difficult for your nightguard to stay in place. Therefore, if you have a couple of missing lower teeth, then it’s best to wear an upper nightguard instead.
(2) Dental implants
It’s best to avoid wearing a nightguard right on top of a dental implant. Nightguards hug your teeth very tightly and pull on your teeth. This added pressure could potentially damage your dental implants over time. As a result, it’s preferable not to wear your nightguard on top of dental implants. So if you have dental implants on your bottom teeth, then you might want to wear an upper nightguard instead. Another option is to visit your dentist to have him or her hallow out the areas that sit against your dental implants to help protect them.
(3) Orthodontic retainers
Those of you who have had braces or clear aligner treatment in the past need to pay attention to this one. Generally speaking, your lower teeth are more likely to shift, following the conclusion of your orthodontic treatment. This means you might be better off wearing an upper nightguard and a lower retainer. This is especially true if you still have your wisdom teeth in your mouth, which could cause your lower teeth to shift more.
(4) Difficulty wearing a lower nightguard
Not everyone ends up wearing their nightguard every single night. Some people have a smaller lower jaw, others have a large tongue, and some just can’t get comfortable with wearing their nightguard. Regardless of the reason, some folks find it difficult to wear a lower nightguard. If this has been your experience in the past, then you should try to wear an upper nightguard instead.
How to choose between an upper or lower night guard?
The first step to wearing a nightguard is to decide between an upper or lower nightguard. Talk to your dentist if you’re still struggling with which type of nightguard is best suited to your needs. Another method is to experiment with an over-the-counter nightguard to see which one you’re more comfortable with. This allows you to make a more informed decision when it comes to getting your custom nightguard. Either way, be sure to get a well-designed nightguard and wear it every night. Otherwise, be ready to spend a lot of time in your dentist’s chair, fixing your broken teeth and failed dental restorations!