To treat teeth grinding (also known as bruxism) and clenching, dentists will recommend a dental night guard (a bite guard or occlusal guard), which is a protective mouth guard made from a soft or hard plastic material. These mouth guards are worn while sleeping, and prevent the forces generated during nighttime teeth grinding from doing damage to your teeth.
1. Stock mouth protectors, this over-the-counter night guard is the most economical option, but rarely recommended by dentists. Since these guards are bought pre-formed, they are often ill-fitting and bulky and can make talking and breathing more difficult.
2. Boil and bite mouth protectors also can be bought at many sporting goods stores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. The "boil and bite" mouth guard is made from thermoplastic material. It is placed in hot water to soften, then placed in the mouth and shaped around the teeth using finger and tongue pressure.
3. Custom-fitted mouth protectors are individually designed and made in a dental office or a professional laboratory based on your dentist's instructions. First, your dentist will make an impression of your teeth and a mouth guard is then molded over the model using a special material. Due to the use of the special material and because of the extra time and work involved, this custom-made mouth guard is more expensive than the other types, but it provides the most comfort and protection.
Generally, mouth guards cover your upper teeth only, but in some instances (such as if you wear braces or another fixed dental appliance on your lower jaw), your dentist will make a mouth guard for the lower teeth as well. Your dentist can suggest the best mouth guard for you. An effective mouth guard should be comfortable, resist tears, be durable and easy to clean, and should not restrict your breathing or speech.