You should wear a night guard if you grind your teeth at nighttime. Wearing a night guard helps protect your teeth against breaking and cracking. Plus, your night guard protects your dental restorations, TMJ and facial muscles as well. Before you purchase your night guard, you need to decide whether you want to wear your night guard on the top or bottom teeth? There’s really not an option to wear an upper and lower night guard at the same time (this would be considered a sleep apnea device). Therefore, you need to choose whether you want to wear an upper or lower night guard. So which one is the better option for you? Here’s how to decide:
Lower night guard is the default choice
A lower night guard is considered the standard by most dentists. After all, a lower night guard directly protects your TMJ and lower jaw. Plus, it’s usually easier to wear your night guard on the bottom teeth. Finally, a lower night guard is less likely to fall out of your mouth due to gravitational forces. So we recommend that you go with a lower night guard unless there’s a reason not to:
Reasons to wear an upper night guard
It turns our, there are a few scenarios where you should opt to wear an upper night guard instead of a lower one. Here are some examples of where an upper night guard is the more suitable option for you:
(1) Missing lower teeth
If you’re missing a few lower teeth then it’s going to be difficult to wear a lower night guard! After all, you need to have teeth to stabilize your night guard. When there are a few teeth missing it becomes difficult for your night guard to sit in place. Therefore, it’s preferable to wear an upper night guard if you’re missing multiple lower teeth.
(2) Dental implants on bottom teeth
It’s preferable, but not mandatory, to avoid wearing a night guard on top of dental implants. Night guards hug your teeth very tightly, thus they pull on your teeth/dental implants. This pressure could potentially damage your dental implants. As a result, it’s preferable not to wear your night guard on top of dental implants. If you have dental implants on your bottom teeth then you should wear an upper night guard.
(3) Lower orthodontic retainer
This one is for those of you who have had braces or clear aligner treatment recently. If you’re currently wearing orthodontic retainers then you need to decide where to wear your night guard. You might be better off wearing an upper night guard most of the times. Generally speaking, your lower teeth are more likely to move after orthodontic treatment. This is especially true if you still have your wisdom teeth in your mouth. So, if you’ve have braces and grind your teeth, it’s usually better to wear an upper night guard combined with a lower retainer.
(4) Problems wearing a lower night guard
Let’s be honest, not everyone does well wearing a lower night guard. You should try wearing an upper night guard if you’ve had troubles in the past wearing a lower night guard. Why do some people struggle wearing a lower night guard? Well, some people have a small lower jaw. Others have a large tongue. Regardless of the reason, some folks find it difficult to wear a lower night guard and are better off wearing an upper night guard instead.
How to choose between an upper or lower night guard?
It’s quite simple: if you’re a night time teeth grinder then you need to wear a night guard. Heavy tooth grinders and those with symptoms, such as persistent headaches or history of tooth fracture, should highly consider wearing a custom night guard as opposed to a generic one. The first step to wearing a night guard is to choose where you want to wear your night guard. You also need to decide if you prefer a soft, medium or hard night guard.
If you’re still struggling deciding which type of night guard to get then talk to your dentist. Your dentist can help you decide which night guard options are most suitable to your needs. Another option is to experiment with over-the-counter night guards to see which one you’re more comfortable with. This way, you can make a more informed decision and get your custom night guard for whichever arch is more comfortable. Either way, be sure to get a well-designed night guard and use it as directed every single night! Otherwise, be ready to spend a lot of time in your dentist chair fixing your broken teeth and failed dental restorations.