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Our Best Tips for Sleeping With a Mouth Guard

8 min read
by JS Dental Lab |

If you sleep with a mouth guard, you likely have bruxism. It’s a medical term that refers to the action of grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw (or both) unconsciously.

Most people with bruxism display these behaviors when they’re sleeping. But, there is a type of awake bruxism. It’s less common but occurs when the person is concentrating intensely or overly stressed.

Regardless of the reason behind it, when you have a mouth guard, you may struggle with adjusting to how it feels in your mouth. This is perfectly normal, but ‘normal’ doesn’t help you sleep better at night!

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into what bruxism is and how to sleep better when wearing your mouth guard. 

Don’t give up on wearing yours before you try these tips for sleeping with a night guard.

Why Bruxism is a Literal Pain and Needs to Stop

At first, you might not have thought clenching and grinding your teeth was a big deal. But when this behavior goes on for a while, the effects are hard to ignore.

Symptoms of sleep bruxism can be a literal pain, as in: 

  • Your face and jaw muscles are overworked, causing them to be sore. 
  • You’ll probably have headaches and neck pain from grinding and clenching your upper teeth and lower teeth all night. 
  • Eventually, your teeth will wear down to the point where they’re extra sensitive.

    It’s not a problem to take lightly. If your dentist diagnoses you with bruxism, it’s time to act. 

    Investing in your own mouth guard to prevent the issue from worsening is a good start. Ideally, you’ll choose a custom night guard that fits you and you alone. 

    Once you have your mouth guard, use our tips to ensure you stay asleep while the night guard works its magic:

    Give Yourself Some Pre-Sleep Time

    We all have a bedtime routine we prefer. There’s a side of the bed we love, pillows we fluff, a blanket we use, and a position we sleep in.

    As creatures of habit, we may not like how mouth guards change the way we sleep at first. After all, the most minor change can cause some of us to toss and turn all night.

    Sleeping with a mouth guard is a change from what your body already knows and likes. 

    So how do you fall asleep with a plastic piece of dental equipment in your mouth if you’re sensitive to change?

    Falling Asleep With a Night Guard

    ... Is easier than you think.

    Consider your regular bedtime habits. Do you put your mouth guard in right before you get comfy on your pillow?

    If that’s been your routine, and you toss and turn before you fall asleep, a minor tweak may be all you need. 

    Try these simple pre-sleep habits:

    1. Simply place the night guard in position at least half an hour before laying down. 
    2. Wear it while you read in bed, stretch, watch TV, whatever you like. 
    3. The more you wear it before sleeping, the more time your mouth has to adjust, and you can fall asleep faster.

    This extra time you wear it gives your body an added chance to become accustomed to its new accessory.

    If you fall asleep with your mouth guard, but find you can’t stay asleep, bunch up your pillows. 

    This extra elevation helps keep your mouth in the “fitted” position. 

    And if you can, avoid sleeping on your side since the pressure from the bed can push the night guard out of place and make it uncomfortable.

    We answer the question: Why Do My Teeth Feel Weird? right here!

    Expect an Adjustment Period

    relaxing close-up of candles and essential oils

    You’ve had years of training your body to sleep a certain way. Your body is going to need a little while to get used to sleeping with a mouth guard.

    We have a couple of ideas that can help with this transition.

    Consider the Appliance Material

    Depending on where you are getting your mouth guard, you may request one made with a thinner material. Different materials make different mouth guards. 

    When you get one made from a material like hard acrylic, it’s thick and cumbersome. But thinner materials like vinyl resins, polyurethane, and latex are more comfortable and easier to adjust to.

    Over-the-counter brands make one-size-fits-most mouth guards. These do not fit your mouth precisely, and therefore, will be less comfortable, making it hard to fall asleep.

    You can buy cheap boil night guards online or OTC, but they’re usually bulky and can rub on your gums. Chances are, you’ll end up taking it out and sleeping without your night guard instead of dealing with the discomfort. 

    Going with a custom-made appliance from a company like JS Dental Lab gives you more options. You can choose the material that your mouth is least sensitive to, giving you a fighting chance to get quality sleep with your appliance.

    Consider the Appliance Style

    If your mouth guard is interchangeable, you can wear it on either your upper or bottom teeth. But if one way is affecting your sleep, try to swap the position. You may have the appliance in the wrong way. 

    If yours were custom-designed for an exact fit, though, you’ll be able to tell which way it should go in.

    Consider Wearing the Appliance in the Daytime, Too

    Beyond the reasons above, there may be another reason you still have trouble adjusting. 

    You need to wear it more often, not less! Besides popping it in a half hour before bed, try wearing it during the day if you can. Keep it in for short periods, like twenty minutes, to familiarize your mouth and brain. 

    This is essential for the first couple of days. Mentally prepare yourself that it’s probably going to be uncomfortable at first, until you acclimate to it. 

    Eventually, it will become a habit,, and you won’t even notice you’re wearing it.

    We uncover the 4 Possible Reasons Why You're Waking Up With Dry Mouth here

    Change the Mouth Guard

    When all else fails, and you absolutely can’t get comfortable, you might have the wrong type of night guard.

    There are a few different types of mouthpieces. Unless you work with a professional company to figure out the kind you need, you may need another type.

    Mouth guards come in four main styles:

    Sports Guards

    Sports guards are usually for athletes to wear during their activities. 

    Since they’re not technically for sleeping and need to absorb impact, they are thick and hard. 

    But they’re also cheap, making them attractive to people who are looking for a quick way to stop grinding.

    Over-the-Counter Guards

    Over-the-counter guards are available at many drug stores. 

    Again, the price is lower than custom-made pieces, and you can skip the dental visit. They’re thinner than sports guards, but since they don’t custom fit your mouth, it can be harder to find one that fits right and feels natural. 

    These also have to be replaced frequently due to the lower quality material that gives them their inexpensive price tag.

    Dental Mouth Guards 

    Dental mouth guards are custom-made for you to fit your teeth exactly. 

    Your dentist also knows your oral health issues, so the mouth guard can correct things like grinding. 

    The materials are durable and long-lasting, but a visit to the dentist and custom fittings, molds, and appliances can get expensive.

    Custom-Fit Lab-Created Guards 

    Custom-fit lab-created guards give you the benefit of a professional night guard along with the advantage of skipping the office visit. 

    Working with a reputable company like JS Dental Lab ensures you’ll get a guard that fits you perfectly. 

    You simply make the mold of your teeth at home and mail it in. Lab specialists craft and mail you your new guard. 

    The overall price is a fraction of what you’d spend at the dental office for a mouthpiece of the same or better quality.

    It might be time to invest in this type of mouth guard, one created just for you. Since it will fit your mouth perfectly, wearing your mouthpiece when you sleep will be much easier.

    Follow the Instructions

    Close-up of a mouthgard mold and case

    You must also remember to give your mouth guard a running chance to work! If you don’t put it in properly or take care of it well, it can’t do its job for you.

    Luckily, it’s pretty easy to know whether a custom-made appliance is in your mouth right or not. When you insert it correctly, it snaps into place. If you’re not wearing it the way it should be, it won’t fit snug or feel natural.

    When you put the night guard in and take it out, be sure you’re in an upright position, either sitting or standing. 

    Otherwise, you might put it in your mouth at an angle. This causes problems that make it hard to sleep with the appliance in, such as a pinching feeling.

    Tips for Caring for Your Mouth Guard

    Keeping your mouth guard clean is another essential step to make wearing it comfortable. 

    Rinse it in cold water and give it a quick scrub with your toothbrush each day. You don’t have to use toothpaste, but you can.

    A few pieces of advice to remember when it comes to cleaning this dental appliance:

    • Never put it in hot water, microwaves, or dishwashers. This can warp the material.
    • Don’t use alcohol to disinfect your mouth guard, even if it’s in mouthwash. It might seem like a great way to kill bacteria, but it ends up degrading the material. 
    • To disinfect it, use a cup of water with a teaspoon of bleach. Soak the mouth guard for five minutes, then rinse it with cold water.

    When you aren’t using your mouth guard, store it in the container the manufacturer provided. You can clean the container the same way you clean the mouth guard. 

    Without proper care, your oral appliance may develop issues like distortion. You can also end up with infections from bacteria and other microorganisms.

    These creatures thrive in moist, dark areas like your mouth and the storage container you use. 

    Related: How to Clean Your Mouth Guard

    Practice Good Mouth Guard Hygiene

    Just as you’d use hygienic principles to keep your toothbrush safe, you should follow some basic care guidelines for the night guard. 

    Keep it in your mouth all night. Don’t pop it in and out until you’re ready to clean it.  Never share your mouth guard with anyone else. 

    Replace your mouthpiece as recommended. A custom guard should last you from one to five years or longer. Factors like your upkeep and maintenance, dental health issues, and the quality of the material affect lifespan.

    Most importantly, these factors affect your ability to comfortably sleep with your night guard in the future.

    Keep Maintenance Visits With Your Doctor

    If teeth grinding or sleep apnea are the reasons you have a custom night guard, follow up with your doctor. You can’t skip the medical and dentistry treatments just because you are using the appliance as directed.

    Bruxism and sleep apnea are two of the most common reasons for mouth guards. 

    Getting a custom fit appliance can help the symptoms, reducing jaw pain and TMJ issues. 

    However, it isn’t always the cure for your medical or oral health conditions. If your condition is left untreated, the side effects could get worse.


    Sleeping with anything you’re not used to takes some time to become a habit. 

    With these tips and a mouth guard from JS Dental that fits your unique needs, you’ll get your back to a better night’s sleep fast.

    Contact us today to see how our custom night guards can protect your teeth (and your sleep!)

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