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NTI Night Guards and Alternatives Compared

9 min read
by Dylan Hao |

Teeth grinding and jaw clenching are common behaviors around the world, with 5-8% of the general population dealing with them at some point. The official term for ongoing grinding and clenching is bruxism. It can happen while you’re awake, but sleep bruxism is more prevalent.

Because you don’t tend to notice that you’re grinding while you’re sleeping, by the time you realize there’s a problem, the damage is already underway. But as soon as you recognize the side effects and connect them to bruxing, you can start working on solutions.

One possible treatment is the NTI night guard. Short for NTI-tss (Nociceptive Trigeminal Inhibition Tension Suppression System), the NTI is an FDA-approved device used to manage bruxism and TMJ disorders. It can also be effective when used to treat medically-diagnosed migraines.

Is an NTI night guard right for you? Here, we’ll explain what it is, how it’s different from typical night guards, and what your alternatives to the NTI include.

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What is the Difference Between Conventional Night Guards and an NTI Night Guard?

NTI night guards have advantages and disadvantages that make them excellent solutions for some people while not working as well for others. 

However, this same theory can apply to any oral appliance, including general night guards. Understanding what each device does will help you narrow your options down more thoroughly.

Summarizing Night Guards

Night guards are devices designed to protect your teeth from the damage caused by bruxism, a condition characterized by clenching and grinding (usually in your sleep). These devices are made from materials like acrylic or hard plastic. They cover either the upper or lower arch, preventing the top and bottom teeth from touching.

The important thing to note with night guards is that they’re intended to prevent damage to your teeth. They don’t stop the behaviors that cause the damage and aren’t prescribed as a way to get the teeth to shift, like other orthodontics. In fact, if you’re using a night guard and your teeth are shifting, the appliance isn’t fitting correctly.

Summarizing NTI Night Guards

NTI night guards, on the other hand, are small guards that are placed strategically over the central incisors (the front or anterior teeth). Similar to a general night guard, this little device is made from hard plastics and acrylics, and it prevents your teeth from touching while you sleep.

However, unlike a night guard, the NTI specifically trains your muscles to relax and can be used to effectively stop bruxing or headache-inducing behaviors. 

NTI night guard

Understanding the NTI Night Guard

The NTI-tss night guard’s function is to prevent and treat bruxism and disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), migraines, and tension headaches.

Four different models are designed to help reach those purposes: the NTI-tss Plus™, NTI-tss Plus™ Soft, NTI-tss Plus™ Daytime, and NTI-tss Plus™ Universal Therapy Set. Each of these is similar but prescribed for different conditions.

NTI-tss Plus™

The first model in this system is the Plus. This product, available in multiple designs, is intended to help treat migraine pain and tension headaches. It works by reducing the intensity of muscle contractions during sleep.

When a user wears the guard on the front teeth, it limits the strain on the TMJ and attached discs. This leads to less muscle tension, one of the causes of migraines and the associated morning headaches.

NTI-tss Plus™ Soft

The Plus model itself is beneficial for solving oral health problems, but it’s not the most comfortable, so it also comes in a Soft version. This guard is formed using hard and soft thermoplastics to ensure a more convenient fit when you’re wearing the device.

Moderate and severe grinders can easily damage a regular night guard, but the Plus Soft has a built-in addition of Clear 450 Discluding Element to enhance its durability. The Plus Soft covers the second bicuspid and the central incisors to help the device stay in place more securely.

NTI-tss Plus™ Daytime

Not all clenching and grinding happens at night. When you’re an awake bruxer, the Plus Daytime might be right for you.

This device uses the same methods behind the Plus and Plus Soft but is designed to be less obviously visible. The discluding element keeps your posterior teeth and canines separated while staying out of the way of your normal daytime behaviors.

The Plus Daytime is also beneficial for those who suffer from frequent migraines. Wearing the device throughout the day helps relax the muscles and prevent the strain that can cause tension and migraine headaches.

NTI-tss Plus™ Universal Therapy Set

The last model in the NTI-tss night guard line is the Plus Universal Therapy Set. This model includes dual arch appliances for stubborn grinders who need extra help reducing tooth contact. It’s also helpful for patients who have missing or different-sized incisors along the arches.

Doctors prescribe this line of night guards when the problem needs to be eliminated rather than mitigated. Regardless of which model of NTI night guards you are prescribed, they all require substantial maintenance and upkeep.

Have you read Can a Night Guard Shift Your Teeth?

The Disadvantages of an NTI Night Guard

Research shows that NTI night guards, when used correctly, can effectively stop the behaviors of bruxism that damage your oral health. Many patients love its small size. Covering two teeth is less obtrusive than dealing with a night guard that covers the whole top or bottom arch.

The NTI-tss is also popular because it gives the user relief fast. The jaw muscles rest, the joint gets time to recover, and those headaches and other side effects disappear.

But the key to those positive results is that the guard must be used correctly, which means you’ll have to commit to regular maintenance and follow-up visits.

The Potential Downsides

The NTI-tss night guard does have some impressive benefits. Still, the potential disadvantages keep it from being universally expert-approved.

Healthy Teeth Are a Must

For one thing, patients can’t use the device unless they have healthy teeth. If you’re missing teeth or have had front dental work, like crowns, done, you may not be eligible for this guard. 

Patients with atypical bites, loose teeth, degenerative arthritis in the jaw, or damaged teeth due to periodontal disease shouldn’t use the NTI night guard.

You Could Choke

Another concern is due to the small size. Sure, it makes the guard more comfortable, but it also turns it into a possible choking hazard. It could be deadly if it comes off your teeth while you’re sleeping.

Your Bite Can Shift

When you’re wearing a general, custom-fit night guard, the whole arch is covered. But with an NTI-tss night guard, only strategic teeth are protected. Over time, this can affect your bite, forcing the surrounding teeth to move and causing an open bite. Your front teeth can’t touch, which can also cause your TMJ disc to slip.

Having your dentist check your teeth and bite frequently is crucial if you want to avoid these problems and other tooth damage. 

They Cost More Overall

NTIs are also more expensive than general night guards. Some insurance companies may cover them if they’re prescribed by your medical doctor or dentist as an occlusal guard, occlusal orthotic device, or a removable habit appliance. 

Check with your insurance company to see if it covers the device and what kind of follow-up treatment is included.

The typical insurance provider does not pay for night guards, but they cover preventative care. Your plan may also take care of part of the damage caused by bruxism. Still, dental plans usually have an annual limit of between one and two thousand dollars. With an NTI night guard, you must pay for the fitting, the appliance, and all the follow-up visits to ensure your teeth aren’t shifting. Even with insurance, those costs add up fast.

Custom-fit night guards from JS Dental Lab save you money on office visits, and wearing them reduces what could turn into expensive damage to your oral health.

Read This Before You Buy a Night Guard Online

Do You Need an NTI Night Guard or an Alternative?

Close-up of a young woman taking out her night guard

The question is whether you truly need the expense and upkeep of an NTI-tss night guard or if a general night guard will help.

Talk to your doctor if you have a serious bruxing, TMJ, or migraine issue. They’ll advise you as to which device is best for your condition.

But if you think you might have bruxism and want something to help you eliminate the side effects, a custom-fit night guard from professionals like JS Dental Lab is a smart next step. 

With JS Dental Lab’s night guards, you get to skip the expense of the dentist’s office and still get a high-quality custom-made appliance. 

As you decide which dental appliance is right for you, the final decision should be based on whether you want to stop the problem or minimize the damage caused to your teeth and surrounding muscles and joints. 

Alternatives to NTI Night Guards

A dental night guard protects your oral health with full arch coverage but doesn’t stop the grinding and clenching movements. NTI night guards inhibit the clenching, allowing you to essentially retrain your brain and muscles as you sleep.

But there are other alternatives to these devices, depending on your dental needs, overall health, and budget. 

Occlusal Splints 

Occlusal splints are the official term for dental or night guards. They come in various designs, from over-the-counter boil-and-bites to the professional, custom-fit mail kits you get with JS Dental Lab.

Note: Dental guards are different from mouth guards, devices used to protect the face from injury during contact sports. 

If you’re searching for an occlusal splint, you can find them at your local pharmacy. However, these guards are one-size-fits-most. They’re the least expensive but can cause more damage than they fix.

Experts recommend custom-made night guards from a dental professional, but that significantly raises the costs because you have to pay for multiple office visits. You’ll need the initial dental exam, x-rays, mold, fittings, and follow-ups. 

Instead of paying for each visit and the NTI-tss device, you can have the same high-quality, individually designed guard shipped to your door from JS Dental Lab. Our process is straightforward and simple, but our professionals are available to answer any questions you might have along the way!

Hybrid Night Guard

Stress Management Techniques

Stress management? For grinding? 


Stress is one of the leading causes of bruxism. When stressed, your body releases chemicals like cortisol, hormones that tell your body you’re in danger. These are good to have when you really do need to get out of a situation fast, but an abundance of cortisol leads to an imbalance in your brain.

Those hormones have to go somewhere to get released. If you’re not working out or relieving the stress somehow purposely, your brain does it for you in your sleep. The action of clenching and grinding helps release stress, but it causes some painful side effects at the same time.

You can avoid clenching by finding ways to reduce your stress hormone levels, such as:

  • Daily exercise
  • Nature walks
  • Yoga or meditation
  • Journaling
  • Avoiding caffeine
  • Adjusting your sleep routine

Anything that helps decreases a bit of stress in your day goes a long way toward lowering your cortisol levels. But if you can’t eliminate your stress, wear a night guard. Studies show that 70% of soft occlusal splint wears have lower cortisol levels.

TMJ/TMD Treatments

Is your TMJ causing your symptoms? If so, a specialist can help.

TMJ disorders refer to a group of 30 conditions that affect the temporomandibular joint. This tiny, delicate area is responsible for every move your jaw makes. It can move forward and backward or side-to-side. When it’s out of place, the jaw pain becomes severe.

TMD (temporomandibular disorder) specialists know how to treat this sensitive jaw joint. They can provide exercises, teach you to adjust your habits, or prescribe medication to help the inflammation and pain. If complementary and conservative treatments don’t help, a TMD specialist may suggest medical or dental surgical procedures.

Migraine Treatments

Migraines are described as tension-type headaches that are so severe the person suffering from them can’t engage in regular activities. Often, these headaches come with blurred vision, nausea, and vomiting. 

If you have regular migraines and OTC meds don’t help, talk to your doctor about other treatments. Some say they have relief from Triptans, a specific class of painkillers, or anti-emetics, commonly used as anti-sickness medicines.

Conservative treatments outside of dentistry, like acupuncture and transcranial magnetic stimulation, could help chronic migraine sufferers regain a better quality of life.

Related: What to Do if Your Teeth Hurt After Wearing a Night Guard


When you don’t want to deal with the side effects of bruxing, TMJ problems, or migraines any longer, an NTI appliance may be your best solution. But before investing in these devices' expense and long-term upkeep, consider whether an alternative, like a night guard from JS Dental Lab, is the better answer to solve your teeth clenching damage.

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