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  • by: Stacy Radke
  • 18 min read



Bruxism is an oral parafunctional activity that, without the correct treatment, can cause considerable damage to teeth, gums, and jaws. While there is no reliable method for assessing bruxism, tooth wear is often connected to this condition. However, tooth wear can also be the result of abrasion, erosion, or long-term attrition.

Although there are several different ways to treat bruxism, the use of an occlusal appliance is largely considered to be the best technique. Usually, this involves the patient wearing a custom-made mouthguard. These mouthguards have different names, as they can be called “occlusal bite guards,” “bruxism appliances,” “occlusal devices,” and “bite plates.” All have slightly different appearances but most are made from hard acrylic resin and generally fit over the upper jaw.

Although soft mouth splints are available, many clinicians prefer to fit hard acrylic-resin mouthguards for practical reasons. This is because soft mouthguards can be more difficult to adjust, making it more difficult to prevent inadvertent tooth movements. It’s also been suggested that hard mouthguards can be more effective in reducing bruxism, but there are occasions when soft mouthguards can be preferable for patients.  

There are several types of mouthguards that are commonly available and which include a flat bruxism splint made from a hard material, a mouthguard made from a combination of hard and soft materials, or a mouthguard made entirely from soft materials. Night guards can also be fabricated from a thermoplastic material, but they must be softened in warm water before use.

View Bruxism Mouthguards here »

Flat-Bruxism Mouthguard

This particular night guard is small yet very durable and is a good choice for people with moderate bruxism. It can be made to fit over the upper or lower arch. Fabricated with a flat occlusal plane, it fits tightly and provides even contact with the opposing teeth. People wishing to have this type of night guard should ensure they don’t need any dental work in the near future. This is because any changes to dental anatomy could affect the fit of the mouthguard and may mean a new appliance is required to fit these changes.


Soft/Hard Mouthguard

Consist of two layers of different materials which are sandwiched together, these mouthguards can fit over the upper or lower teeth. The inner material that fits directly over the teeth is softer, with a hard, acrylic material laminated on the outside. Using a softer material helps increase patient comfort while the outer harder material provides a protective shell. They are fabricated with a flat occlusal surface that includes slight indexing and can be customized according to the clinician’s preference.


Soft Night Guard

Soft mouthguards are ideal when more fragile dental work must be protected. They are made from 3 mm thickness soft ethylene vinyl acetate material (EVA) and which is BPA and latex-free.


Thermoplastic Mouthguards

Made from a hard, thermoplastic material, these mouthguards must be softened by holding them under warm water before being inserted. This helps to ensure insertion is more comfortable. Thermoplastic mouthguards have a hard, occlusal plane that may be slightly indexed to accommodate the opposing dentition.

Many patients fail to realize the importance of a properly-fitting mouthguard in treating bruxism. As a result, they may opt for over-the-counter solutions that are available in stock sizes or so called ‘boil and bite’ mouthguards that must be adapted to fit by first softening the night guard in boiling water. While these options may help prevent further tooth damage, they are frequently uncomfortable to wear and may not offer adequate protection. The materials used to fabricate these mouthguards are less durable and are more easily destroyed by clenching and grinding.


Please be reminded that should you wish to discuss a case in more detail, our experienced technical team is here to assist you.

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