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6 Benefits of Using a Night Guard

7 min read
by Dylan Hao |

A night guard is a durable oral appliance that looks similar to a retainer or teeth whitening tray, except it slides over the upper or lower arch of your teeth only. You might see this piece of equipment called other names, such as a dental guard, occlusal guard, mouthguard, or bite splint. 

Regardless of its name, the device is made of soft or hard plastic that keeps your upper and top and bottom teeth from touching when you clench or grind in your sleep. This condition, called sleep bruxism, happens unconsciously, and the actions of jaw clenching and teeth grinding can lead to serious oral health damage.

Why should you consider a night guard for your bruxism?

Here, we’ll explain the dangers of sleep bruxism and the 6 main benefits of using a well-designed occlusal guard to cushion your teeth from, well, themselves!

Understanding Sleep Bruxism

Sleep bruxism is the term for when we, as adults or children, clench our jaws and grind our teeth while asleep. It’s most common in kids, but many adults do it, too.

Studies show a strong correlation between stress and anxiety and bruxing, so the more stressed you are, the more frequent your grinding likely is. 

There are other causes of bruxism, such as:

  • Dental health issues (cavities, teeth fractures, gum disease, etc.)
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

Learn more: How to Stop Grinding Your Teeth: Solutions and Suggestions

6 Reasons Why You Need a Night Guard If You Brux

Whatever’s creating your bruxing behaviors, it’s important to talk to your doctor or dentist to find out how to fix the problem. A night guard can help prevent ongoing damage, but there’s a reason your brain is telling your jaw muscles to clench and grind your teeth.

Ignoring the reason behind your bruxing, be it stress-related or something medical, might be dangerous. But as you’re working on finding the fix for the cause of your bruxism, a night guard is the front line of defense against the harm those behaviors can inflict.

Let’s look at 6 ways these simple appliances can benefit you when you wear them consistently.

1. Prevents Damage to Tooth Enamel and Gums

Although your teeth are harder than bone, they can still become damaged if you grind them frequently enough. Similar to the way rocks and ground are worn away by erosion or sandpaper softens a rough surface, the grinding behaviors from bruxism will slowly flatten your sharp teeth.

As the enamel is ground down, it becomes thinner, making it easier to crack or break. Once the outside hard enamel wears away, the soft inner layer of dentin becomes exposed. 

Dentin is porous, so although it still somewhat protects your sensitive nerve and pulp inside the tooth, the bacteria that naturally thrive in your mouth now have a way in. Eventually, this causes tooth decay, loose teeth, and gum disease. If you already have restorations like fillings, dental implants, or crowns, grinding teeth can damage those, as well.

However, wearing a night guard is a quick, effective way to stop your bruxing from causing further tooth damage. With consistent use, the guard will prevent the upper and lower teeth from touching, effectively saving the rest of your enamel and giving you a chance to see your dentist and let them fix any issues that have already occurred.

2. Keeps Your Jaw Muscles From Overwork

When your jaw clenches and your teeth grind for (sometimes) hours at a time, the damage potential is extreme. This ongoing movement wears out your jaw muscles, which can swell or tighten. These muscles are connected to your neck and shoulders, leading to upper body tightness and headaches.

Many people who wear custom night guards notice almost instant relief of jaw pain after a few nights of use. Because the teeth can’t make enough contact to grind, the jaw muscles get their much-needed rest while you sleep.

Wearing these custom-fitted dental appliances helps prevent conditions like TMJ disorders, which often stem from chronic grinding, and, crucially, allows better rest. 

3. Reduces Facial Pain and Discomfort

The jaw muscles may be the single most overlooked and underappreciated parts of the body. But these tiny tissues are responsible for every movement you make when you use your mouth. They’re also connected to the TMJ, which is the hinge-like part that allows your mouth to move up and down and side to side.

The TMJ sits just above the jaw and below the inner ear. When your jaw muscles are overworked, as we discussed earlier, the swelling can push the TMJ out of alignment.

This shift has a domino effect of consequences. Not only do you feel pain in the jaw joint, but you may experience discomfort in the ears and sinuses because these areas neighbor the TMJ.

Reducing the stress on your jaw and TMJ relieves pain in the rest of your head area, and a night guard can help.

4. Reduces Headaches and Neck Pain

Similar to how alleviating pressure on the TMJ and jaw muscles helps with facial muscle pain, it can also reduce those morning headaches that come with bruxing.

Teeth clenching for long periods causes tension in the jaw, head, and neck muscles, which is why most bruxing headaches are called “tension” headaches.

You’ll feel these muscle contractions in your head when you wake up each morning, usually in your temples or behind your eyes. However, in severe cases, this clenching can also lead to migraines.

The main culprit of morning headaches is jaw tension from overworked facial muscles. A custom-made night guard can lessen the risk of headaches by giving those muscles a break overnight.

5. Minimizes Your Risk of Snoring

If you snore regularly, it probably doesn’t bother you. You’re sleeping peacefully and don’t even realize you’re engaging in this behavior. But if you're loud enough, it can impact your sleep patterns and those of the people around you.

Wearing a night guard helps “remind” your tongue and jaw to sit in their proper resting positions. This movement opens your airways, letting the air flow freely while you’re breathing and diminishing snoring sounds. Studies show that this slight change in movement effectively reduces snoring.

6. May Help With Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Why is snoring such a big deal? Excessive loud snoring can damage your throat and, more importantly, may be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). 

Snoring is a common complaint with sleep apnea patients, but it’s not the main concern. This sleep disorder can be dangerous, if not deadly.

Let’s cover this main point first before we discuss the reasons night guards can help with sleep apnea. If you’ve been diagnosed with (or think you may have) OSA, you should never self-treat by using a night guard. Moderate and severe OSA conditions often require treatment methods such as a CPAP or BiPAP machine to help you breathe. 

However, if you don’t want to use a machine or they haven’t worked for you, talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of using a custom mouth guard. 

They may recommend one designed for sleep apnea, which pushes your jaw forward to allow easier airflow. This movement decreases snoring and the number of times your breathing pauses in sleep.

But if your OSA is mild, a general night guard, like those we make at JS Dental Lab, can be beneficial. Wearing this guard consistently reduces snoring, improves your sleep quality, and reduces the daytime fatigue most OSA patients complain of.

Over time, you may notice other long-term benefits of quality rest, such as regular blood pressure, reduced stress, and a better quality of life.

The Dangers of the Wrong Night Guard

Notice that throughout the discussions of each benefit, we’ve stressed the importance of ensuring your guard is tailor-made to your teeth’s nooks and crannies. There are multiple vital reasons behind this emphasis.

When a night guard doesn’t fit your mouth precisely, it won’t help you stop grinding or protect your teeth. But the problems go beyond inefficiency.

You may notice extra discomfort with an ill-fitting night guard because the appliance is pushing on your teeth instead of gently protecting them. This can encourage the teeth to shift. Rather than providing the many benefits you were hoping for, the improper fit creates more damage to your teeth, jaw, and attached muscles.

One of the main benefits of night guards is that they should give you better sleep without causing enhanced pain or extra side effects.

Ready to Buy? But Wait!

Now that you’ve gotten a crash course on why night guards are so popular with bruxers, you may want to invest in one right away — and we don’t blame you! 

Keep in mind that although your cheapest and quickest option is an OTC boil-and-bite or one-size-fits-most guard, these rarely provide the most comfortable fit or withstand moderate grinding. 

On the other extreme, heading to the dentist for expensive office visits and a long process of impressions and fittings isn’t the most cost-effective and efficient option. (However, you should head to the dentist if your teeth grinding has caused dental issues that need to be addressed.)

Instead, check out our many high-quality, professional-grade custom night guards at JS Dental Lab. For significantly less than the cost of a dental appliance, you’ll get a durable, comfortable night guard tailor-made to your special smile, all without leaving your home!  


Does a night of restful sleep sound like exactly what the doctor ordered? Would waking up without a morning headache seem like a dream come true? Do you want to eat and yawn and laugh without jaw pain?

If so, it’s time to check out our night guards. Let our experts at JS Dental Lab craft you an oral appliance that will give you all six benefits and an overall improved physical and mental outlook on life!

Shop our night guards today!

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