Skip to main content
Teeth Grinding

Nightguards vs. Splints: Understanding Treatment Options for Teeth Grinding

By May 1, 2024May 28th, 2024No Comments

Do you often wake up with jaw pain or a dull headache? You might be grinding your teeth during sleep without even knowing it. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can lead to serious dental issues if not addressed.

Luckily, there are treatments available, such as night guards and dental splints, that can help protect your teeth and reduce discomfort.

This blog post will guide you through understanding the differences between night guards and splints, their benefits, and how to choose the right option for you. Get ready to say goodbye to facial pain and hello to peaceful nights!

Understanding Teeth Grinding


Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is when you grind your teeth or clench your jaw often without realizing it. This can happen during the day, but most commonly occurs at night.

Grinding can lead to wear and tear on your teeth, muscle tension in your facial muscles, and discomfort in your jaw joints. Over time, this habit can cause significant damage to your teeth and exacerbate conditions like Temporomibular joint (TMJ) disorders.

Common Causes

  • stress and anxiety
  • misaligned teeth or an abnormal bite
  • sleep disorders, such as apnea
  • certain lifestyle choices like alcohol and caffeine consumption

Night Guards for Teeth Grinding

Purpose and Benefits of Night Guards

A night guard offers you a simple yet effective solution to protect your teeth from the adverse effects of teeth grinding, also known as bruxism. By creating a barrier between your upper and lower teeth, these guards prevent direct contact, reducing wear and tear on your enamel.

This protection is crucial not just for preserving the health of your teeth but also for easing symptoms associated with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. The relief comes because the guard minimizes stress on your jaw by distributing bite force more evenly.

Beyond safeguarding your dental surfaces, wearing a bite guard during sleep can significantly improve the quality of your rest. It diminishes the chances of waking up due to discomfort caused by clenching or grinding, allowing for uninterrupted sleep.

Additionally, this dental treatment plays a role in preventing potential jaw pain and muscle fatigue that often results from long-term bruxism. Opting for an occlusal guard could be a game-changer in managing symptoms effectively while protecting against further damage to your oral health.

Types of Night Guards

  • Soft night guards are ideal for mild or occasional teeth grinders. They offer comfort and are easier to get used to. These guards cushion the teeth, preventing damage from grinding, but may not be durable enough for severe grinders.
  • Hard night guards suit those with moderate to severe teeth grinding. Made from a rigid acrylic material, they provide a sturdy barrier between your upper and lower teeth. This type is more durable and offers greater protection against intense grinding.
  • Dual laminate night guards combine both soft and hard materials, featuring a soft interior layer for comfort and a hard outer layer for maximum protection. They work well for people with moderate bruxism who need more support than what soft guards can offer without sacrificing comfort.

Each type of night guard addresses different levels of bruxism severity, ensuring there’s an option that fits your specific needs perfectly.

Dental Splints for Teeth Grinding

Purpose and Benefits of Dental Splints

Dental splints serve a critical function by stabilizing your jaw, which is especially beneficial if you suffer from TMJ disorders. By maintaining the correct position of your jaw, these custom-made devices can significantly reduce pain and discomfort, allowing for better movement and function.

They are designed with precision to fit your mouth perfectly, ensuring that they address the root cause of your symptoms effectively.

The benefits of using dental splints extend beyond just stabilization. They also play a crucial role in alleviating symptoms associated with TMJ disorders by providing necessary support to your jaw and facial muscles.

This not only helps in reducing pain but also aids in improving overall oral health by preventing further damage caused by grinding or clenching of teeth. With their ability to minimize wear on teeth and alleviate stress on the jaw, dental splints offer a comprehensive solution for managing TMJ-related issues efficiently.

Types of Splints

  • TMJ splint, also known as a stabilization splint, is custom-made for your mouth. Its primary function is to stabilize your jaw position, reducing stress and relieving symptoms associated with TMJ disorders.
  • Occlusal guard or night guard stabilization splint that focuses on treating sleep bruxism. This type creates a protective barrier between your upper and lower teeth during sleep, preventing them from grinding against each other.

Choosing the right kind depends on your unique symptoms and needs; some people might benefit more from a TMJ splint’s jaw stabilization qualities while others might find relief with an occlusal guard that reduces teeth grinding at night.

Consultation with a Dentist

Evaluating Individual Needs

Visiting a dentist puts you on the right path to assessing your specific condition and deciding whether a night guard or splint suits you best. Your dentist examines your teeth, jaw alignment, and symptoms of bruxism or TMJ disorders.

This personal evaluation ensures the treatment aligns with your unique needs, whether it’s managing sleep bruxism with an occlusal guard or stabilizing your jaw with a TMJ splint.

Choosing between these options hinges on understanding how each one addresses different aspects of teeth grinding. If you have apnoea-induced grinding, treatment for apnoea might be recommended over standard solutions for clenching related to central nervous system issues.

Your dentist will guide through this decision-making process, focusing on the most effective treatment to protect your teeth and ease symptoms based on a thorough analysis and diagnosis of your individual dental health concerns.

Determining the Best Treatment Option

Selecting the right treatment for teeth grinding starts with understanding your specific condition. If your teeth grinding is due to apnoea, treatment for apnoea presents the best option.

For clenching related to central nervous system issues, a night guard might be more effective. Both night guards and splints serve to protect against bruxism, but their function and suitability vary based on individual needs.

A consultation with your dentist will help pinpoint whether a TMJ splint or a night guard suits you better. A TMJ splint stabilizes the jaw and relieves symptoms of TMJ disorders, while a night guard primarily prevents teeth from grinding against each other during sleep.

Cost and Maintenance

Understanding the costs and maintenance involved is crucial. The price of night guards and splints can vary widely based on whether they are over-the-counter or custom-made by a dentist.

Over-the-counter options may appear more budget-friendly initially but might not offer the exact fit or long-lasting protection you need. Custom-made devices, while more expensive upfront, provide a precise fit designed specifically for your mouth, potentially saving you money in the long run by preventing further dental issues.

Maintaining your night guard or splint is straightforward, but essential to ensure it lasts and continues to protect your teeth effectively. You should clean it regularly according to the instructions provided by your dentist—usually with mild soap and water or a specific cleaning solution—and store it safely when not in use.

Inspecting it periodically for wear and tear will help identify when it needs replacing. Keeping up with this maintenance helps extend its lifespan, making it a cost-effective solution over time.


Choose a night guard or a splint based on your unique needs for teeth grinding protection. Night guards protect against bruxism, creating a barrier between teeth during sleep. Splints work to stabilize the jaw and ease TMJ disorders.

Consult with our dentists at Juanita Bay Dentist to find the best fit for you, considering symptoms and causes of teeth grinding. Take action to safeguard your dental health today by exploring these options.