Last updated on August 8th, 2018
You might be a tad surprised to know that teeth gnashing finds its earliest references in the Bible, both in the old and the new testaments.
While the mention itself may have little to do with some of the medical conditions that we will be talking about today, what it does do is reveal, that humans have been grinding, clenching and biting down on their teeth for centuries. Nowadays we have such treatment for grinding teeth as mouth guards, but we will talk about them later.
It is only recently though, that some of the more serious repercussions of this phenomenon were discovered.
While some amount of transient teeth grinding is considered normal and can be shrugged off, it is when it becomes persistent that the condition becomes problematic.
What is a Mouth Guard for Grinding or Clenching Teeth (Bruxism)?
A mouth guard or an occlusal guard, a bite splint or an occlusal splint is a protective device made of soft acrylic or plastic, that when placed over the upper or the lower set of teeth, prevents the teeth from coming into contact with each other. It is typically used as the first course of treatment for Bruxism or teeth grinding.
Depending on the severity of the condition and how worn the teeth are due to persistent grinding, your dentist might customize the guard to cover a part or the entire set of teeth in the upper jaw. In some patients, particularly the ones using braces or other corrective devices, nti mouth guards for both sets of teeth might be required.
Types of Dental Mouth Guards
Just as there are many different types of conditions that can cause premature wearing of your teeth, there are many types of mouth guards too to treat these conditions.
- Stock Mouth Guards: These come preformed in different sizes and ready to wear out of the box. You can buy these off-the-shelf in most retail outlets and sports stores. They are cheap, easy to use. The caveat is that they might not fit you perfectly and you can do little to modify the fit. Also, they might be bulky and hamper the natural movement of your jaw.
- Boil and Bite Mouth Guards: Boil and Bite mouth guards offer a better fit than preformed ones. These are also readily available all over and are pretty cheap as compared to custom fitted ones. The nti mouth guard is usually made of flexible thermoplastic and needs to be prepped by placing it in hot water. This softens the plastic and you can place the guard in your mouth and bite down on it to get a custom fit. You can also use your tongue and your fingers to further customize the fit. These are slightly better than Stock Mouth Guards when it comes to comfort and bulkiness, though nowhere near the comfort offered by a custom fitted mouth guard.
- Custom-fitted mouth guards: These are customized to fit your jaw and are made in a dental office or a professional laboratory based on the sizing and instructions provided by your dentist. A dental impression or a cast is first created and a TMJ mouth guard is custom molded over this cast to create a perfect replica of your teeth. The process is labor-intensive and time consuming. Also, custom guards are made from a softer plastic that is way more comfortable than readymade ones and boil-and-bite ones. Hence, these cost a pretty penny. But, most users who have used both varieties mention that there’s a night and day difference in the fit, comfort and results.
5 Best Mouth Guards for Grinding Teeth (Custom-Made)
|Mouth Guards||Our Rating||Amazon Rating||Price|
|J&S Dental Lab Dental Mouth Guard||5 out of 5||4.9 out of 5||Check Discounts on Amazon|
|Armor Guard Pro-form Mouth Guard||4.8 out of 5||4.4 out of 5||Check Discounts on Amazon|
|TMJ Mouth Guard by More Dental Lab||4.7 out of 5||5 out of 5||Check Discounts on Amazon|
|Dental Night Guard by Pro Teeth Guard||4.9 out of 5||4.5 out of 5||Check Discounts on Amazon|
|Dental Lab Custom Teeth Night Guard||4.5 out of 5||4.3 out of 5||Check Discounts on Amazon|
All said and done, sometimes you just cannot afford a $1000 custom-fitted mouth guard. We completely understand that and hence, we have handpicked the best Mouth Guards for you, right here. All of these can be bought off the shelf and have excellent customer reviews to back them up.
If you cannot opt for a dentist-made nti mouth guard, these are your next best bet.
#1 – J&S Dental Lab Dental Mouth Guard
The J&S Dental Lab mouth guard is a dentist-recommended and approved product that has excellent customer ratings all over. Despite being available for online purchase, this isn’t a premade mouth guard or a boil-and-form one.
This is a custom mouth guard that will fit your teeth perfectly. So, how does it work?
Custom Mouth Guard at a Budget Price
- When you order one of these night guards, you receive a package with three molds and a dentine putty.
- You choose the mold that best fits your teeth, mix the dentine putty to form a thick mixture and pour it into the mold. Now gently bite down into it and carefully remove the impression.
- Viola! You now have a custom mold that a dentist would have priced at $1000 at least.
- Send this back to the manufacturer in the same bubble-wrapped package. Postage is free.
Within a week you receive your custom mouth guard for grinding teeth at night.
You can choose the hardness of the plastic and the thickness of the guard depending on your comfort level and the severity of Bruxism.
Made in the USA and Germany
We have cheap Chinese made products as much as you do. Thankfully, the J&S Dental mouth guard is made in the USA and Germany from FDA-approved BPA-free plastic that does not leech toxic chemicals into your body.
With minimum upkeep, this can easily last for four to five years. Great value for money.
Why We Like It:
- Cheapest custom mouth guard
- Way more durable than run-of-the-mill mouth guards
- Used by dentists
- Perfect fit
- You can choose the thickness and the hardness
- Excellent customer ratings all over
The package includes a DIY impression kit that allows you to create a custom fitting impression of your teeth. Send this back to the manufacturer, and you get a customized, ready-to-use mouth guard.
Two material choices and three thickness levels
Depending on the severity and the symptoms of your teeth grinding, you can choose from two different materials for your night guard for teeth grinding.
- Soft EVA: This is a softer and more flexible material that’s ideal for light grinders who have no TMJ symptoms. It has a very gentle cushioning feel when chewed. But won’t suffices for hard grinders. This is a translucent guard and is available in 2, 2.5 and 3 mm thickness.
- Semi-hard: This is a slightly harder material that’s best suited for heavy grinders and people with symptoms of TMJ. It offers excellent cushioning against even the most severe teeth clenching. The material is slightly cloudy and is available in a color of your choice.
Excellent Customer Service
Armor Guard Pro has one of the best customer service teams that offer quick and precise resolutions to your queries. If you are unsure about their mouth guard for teeth grinding, you can always get a free consultation before you buy.
Why We Like It
- Top-rated custom mouth guard
- Available in soft EVA for light teeth grinders or semi-rigid plastic for heavy grinders
- Available in three thickness levels
- Free consultation available
- BPA-free, allergen-free and child-friendly
Many a time, despite trying your best, the DIY impression just doesn’t create the right fit in the first attempt. You bit down on the putty too fast, or you removed it in a hurry. These things happen a lot.
More Dental Lab brings you this custom TMJ mouth guard with unlimited adjustments and a 100% money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with it for some reason.
German-made, high-quality mouth guard
This is a high-quality mouth guard made in the USA with raw materials imported from Germany. It is BPA and allergen-free plastic that is completely safe for long-term use.
Once again, you can choose the flexibility of the mouth guard depending on your comfort level and the severity of your teeth clenching.
People in an advanced stage of Bruxism with TMJ will experience relief from the symptoms with the hard acrylic material. Light clenchers can pick the soft or semi-hard ones.
Detailed Illustrated Instructions
We love the detailed instructions that are included in the More Dental Lab Mouth Guard package. It takes the guesswork out of the mold creation. If this is the first time you are buying a custom night guard for TMJ, this makes the entire process effortless.
Why We Like It
- Excellent customer ratings
- German-made mouth guard
- Perfect fit
- Different materials for both light and heavy clenchers
- 100% money back guarantee
- Unlimited adjustments
So, you can be rest assured that you are ordering a good quality product that’s probably sold for much more in a cozy dental clinic somewhere in the world.
Dual-layered occlusal guard
This mouth guard has dual-laminate layers. The outer layer is hard acrylic which allows it to sustain the wear and tear of everyday use. The inner layer is a softer laminate that makes for comfortable wearing all-night.
The dual layers offer excellent cushioning irrespective of how severe your teeth grinding is. The guard is slim, and there’s no uncomfortable bulk.
Allows you to close your mouth and breathe normally.
Allows you to choose between upper and lower jaws
Pro Teeth Guard give you the option to choose between mouth guards for your upper jaw and the lower one. You can also choose to create impressions for both jaws to ensure that any possibility of a misfit is eliminated.
It does come with a 100% money back guarantee. So you have nothing to worry about.
Just send the guard back if it doesn’t fit you.
Their customer service team is top-notch, and a new kit should be on your way soon.
Why We Like It
- A reputed supplier of professional dental kits
- American-made mouth guards
- Great quality
- Customers have used it for years without discoloration or the plastic wearing out
- Very affordable price
- 100% money back guarantee
No extra bulk to contend with. No drooling either.
Feels exactly like a dentist-made custom mouth guard would. The only difference is that this is at least $400 cheaper.
Strong, Durable Mouth Guard
The Dental Labs Custom Teeth guard is made of strong, durable FDA-approved materials. It can easily withstand the wear and tear and abrasion.
We spoke to a couple of customers who have used it every single day for the past two years and the quipped at length about how it still looked as good as new.
Ventilated Storage Case Included
As if the pricing wasn’t valued for money already, the manufacturer throws in a ventilated storage case in the package.
This makes it so much easier than having to buy a case separately or storing it in makeshift cases.
Also, you have the option of paying the manufacturer $30 to store your custom mold for the next five years.
That’s a great service and allows you to order replacement guards without going through the whole DIY-mold process again.
Why We Like It
- Semi-hard mouth guard for occlusion
- Helps cushion the jaws and reduces the symptoms of teeth grinding
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Made in the USA
- BPA-free plastic
- 100% money back guarantee
- Cheapest custom mouth guard in the market
8 Mouth Guards for Grinding Teeth Under $30
The market is full of cheap mouth guards, which you have to mold by yourself (unlike custom-made, where professionals make mouth guard for you). We’ve collected the best of them in the table below. We strongly recommend to use custom-made mouth guards for bruxism, because they provide maximum comfort for you and all the manufacturers have a money-back guarantee.
Here is the list of the 8 under $30 Mouth Guards for Bruxism:
|Mouth Guards||Our Rating||Amazon Rating||Price|
|DentalCare Labs Dental Night Guards||4.1 out of 5||4.0 out of 5||Check Discounts on Amazon|
|Dental Guard by Dental Duty||4.0 out of 5||4.0 out of 5||Check Discounts on Amazon|
|Mouth Guard from ProDental ||4.1 out of 5||4.0 out of 5||Check Discounts on Amazon|
|Dental Night Guard by Wunderdent||4.5 out of 5||4.4 out of 5||Check Discounts on Amazon|
|DentaPro2000 Mouth Guard||4.1 out of 5||4.2 out of 5||Check Discounts on Amazon|
|Dr Song Dental Guard BPA Free||4.6 out of 5||4.7 out of 5||Check Discounts on Amazon|
|Japanese Line Dental Mouth Guard||4.3 out of 5||4.5 out of 5||Check Discounts on Amazon|
|The ConfiDental Dental Guard||4.5 out of 5||4.4 out of 5||Check Discounts on Amazon|
What is Bruxism?
The medical name for the condition is Bruxism and it stands for grinding, clenching or locking the jaw during sleep. It might also occur when the person is awake and trying to concentrate hard mind you. But the occurrence is more commonplace during sleep. And that’s what most people associate the condition with.
Bruxism if left untreated can lead to severe dental problems which include damaged teeth, permanent damage to the enamel, headaches and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
That’s not all either. It can trigger a domino effect that affects your ability to function and perform normally in day to day life. You wake up groggy with headaches and jaw pain. You feel sleepy during daytime which hampers performance and productivity.
So, what causes Bruxism?
6 Main Causes of Bruxism
- Anxiety or Stress: Stress and anxiety are considered to be among the main causes of Bruxism. If you are stressed too much, chances are that it will manifest when you are asleep and you end up grinding your teeth.
- Personality disorders: Some people who have aggressive, overly competitive, cynical, negative personalities have been known to grind and clench their teeth more than others.
- Sleep Disorders: Sleep apnea, Sleep paralysis and other sleep disorders such as mumbling in your sleep may also cause Bruxism.
- Intestinal Parasites: Parasites like tapeworm and giardia can cause clenching and grinding.
- Medications: Some antidepressants and antipsychotics are known to cause Bruxism.
- Improper Teeth Alignment: Sometimes, improper dental procedures can leave your teeth misaligned. This can cause Bruxism to some extent.
But since the condition occurs nocturnally most of the time, a lot of people are unaware that they are suffering from it in the first place. How then do you know whether you are suffering from Bruxism?
10 Main Symptoms of Bruxism
We’ve done significant research and gathered the list of the major bruxism symptoms:
- Your partner has been complaining about a grinding noise that wakes them up
- Your teeth are worn out or chipped
- The teeth enamel looks worn
- You have a sore jaw or even a locked jaw
- You have severe tooth ache
- There’s pain in your neck or jaw
- A pain that radiates from your ear to your forehead
- A mild throbbing headache that gets severe
- There are bruises on the inside of the cheek
- You wake up frequently at night
Teeth Grinding and Teeth Clenching
In many people teeth grinding or clenching happens subconsciously as a response to an emotional stimulus, like say, anger. However, when this occurs persistently, especially when the person is asleep, it can cause a fair amount of discomfort and contribute to more severe oral and dental problems.
Our teeth in the upper and lower jaws were not designed to be constantly rubbing against each other.
In fact, even when you chew or bite down on food, the teeth only touch each other momentarily. Hence, consistent grinding and clenching can be damaging to your mouth.
How to Find Out If I Grind My Teeth?
- You are waking up every day with earaches, soreness in the gums/jaws and you have teeth pain
- Your teeth look worn out or flat. This mostly occurs in the back teeth.
- Your teeth are chipped in multiple places
- You have a persistent urge to chew on things during the day time
How to Stop Clenching and Grinding Teeth?
Thankfully, teeth clenching is treatable. And there are numerous easy ways in which you can negate some of the serious effects caused due to this condition. But, it all begins with a visit to the dentist who might suggest the best course of action.
As of now, here are some remedies that can be tried.
- Wearing an occlusal guard
- Facial massage, especially on the jaws and face will help relieve some of the soreness
- Jaw exercises can help relax the tense muscles
- Your health care professional might recommend muscle relaxants
- Reduce anxiety and stress
- Try to get more sleep
- Avoid chewing on gum or other objects during the day
- Keep the jaw relaxed throughout the day
What is TMJ?
TMJ or temporomandibular joints are the two connecting joints on either side of the face near the cheeks, that connect the jaw to the skull. These joints work synergistically with your facial muscles, bones and ligaments allowing you to move your jaw freely, yawn, speak and chew on food.
When these joints get injured or damaged, in this case, due to Bruxism or constant teeth grinding, it is called Temporomandibular disorders (TMD). Very often, people use the two terms (TMJ and TMD) interchangeably, but they mean the same thing.
The condition can be extremely painful and cause severe discomfort.
6 Main TMJ Causes
The TMJ are one of the most sensitive joints in the human body and they can get damaged due to a garden-variety of reasons.
Here are some of the common ones:
- Frequent grinding of the teeth during sleep
- Injury caused due to an accident
- Other autoimmune diseases
In addition to this, there might be environmental, vocational or genetic causes that make you prone to TMJ disorders. For example, violinists often end up straining the TM joints due to the way they hold the violin close to the face. The constant pressure leads to soreness in the joints.
8 Main TMJ Symptoms
Unlike bruxism, TMJ disorders are usually easier to diagnose.
Here are some of the main symptoms:
- Sharp pain near the jaw and the ear that might extend to your neck and shoulder
- Swollen jaws and face
- Difficulty in chewing food
- Clicking noises when you open the jaw or chew down on food
- Severe headaches
- Disturbed sleep
- A persistent ringing in the ear
Having said that, almost 25% of patients have no noticeable symptoms with TMJ. They experience no pain, no soreness, no loss of movement or function.
This leaves the condition undetected for several years, which can be a dangerous scenario because the persistent inflammation in the joints can permanently deteriorate it.
Also, many a times, the root cause of the condition goes undetected as well. For example, a hormonal disorder or an autoimmune condition.
Can Wisdom Teeth Cause TMJ?
One of the most conundrums that people with TMJ problems have is whether the pain is linked to their wisdom tooth.
Sadly, the answer is yes. TMJ may also be caused due to the wisdom tooth, thought that’s not the only cause.
Wisdom teeth eruption can trigger a horde of problems in the mouth.
Firstly, there is no room for the wisdom teeth in your mouth. So when they erupt, they start to encroach on the limited space in the mouth which can lead to overcrowding.
Crowded teeth start to make improper contact with each other when you chew or function normally.
This starts to strain the TMJ leading to soreness, discomfort and hampered oral function.
So, yes. If you have chosen to retain your wisdom teeth and are experiencing TMJ symptoms, then getting it removed might be the easiest solution.
Can TMJ Cause Headaches?
Yes, they can. However, headaches caused due to TMJ are often mistaken for common headaches caused due to stress or lack of sleep because the symptoms overlap.
However, if you keep an eye out for some of the other symptoms, you can easily detect a TMJ headache.
Look for pain that radiates from the jaw, a clicking sound when you move the jaw and soreness in the facial muscles accompanying the headache.
If left untreated, TMJ headaches can also be a trigger for more severe migraine headaches, especially in people who are susceptible to migraine.
Difference between Bruxism and TMJ
Many a time, patients get confused between TMJ and Bruxism, especially because they have similar, overlapping symptoms. But there’s a marked difference in the two conditions.
Here’s an overview.
Bruxism is a condition characterized by chronic, long term grinding of the teeth. It is a paroxysmal disorder that can occur both consciously and subconsciously, during the day, when the person is awake or mostly at night when the person is asleep. It tends to get aggravated if the person is experiencing stressful episodes or suffering from sleep apnea, a dangerous disorder where one stops breathing for a few seconds.
Some of the symptoms of Bruxism are:
- Teeth that are worn out abnormally or chipped
- Enamel that is eroded and reveals the sensitive inner layers of the tooth
- Painful or sore jaws
A TMJ disorder is characterized by inflamed, deteriorated or sore temporomandibular joints, which connects the upper and the lower jaw to the skull and allows uninterrupted movement of the jaw.
TMJ can affect the normal mobility of the jaw and the subsequent pain that follows can even progress into migraine headaches.
What’s ironical is that TMJ can be one of the causes of Bruxism. And Bruxism in turn can worsen the symptoms of TMJ.
Here are some of the symptoms:
- Painful jaws and ears
- Pain that extends to the neck and shoulders
- Persistent headaches
Due to the overlapping symptoms and the possibility that one of these conditions might be linked to the other, it is important that you visit a dentist or a Maxillofacial surgeon who is trained and experienced to treat TMJ disorders. In extreme cases, surgical treatment might be warranted.
Bruxism and TMJ Treatment
To be able to chart an appropriate course of treatment, your dentist will first diagnose the condition. X-rays might be recommended to analyze the severity of the condition and to inspect whether there is any damage to the underlying bone.
Generally, the first course of treatment for both is by using a mouth guard.
The mouth guards used in both these conditions function differently though.
A Bruxism mouth guard prevents the upper jaw and the lower jaw from coming into contact with each other. It’s like a protective barrier that absorbs the impact that occurs as the person grinds their teeth.
A TMJ mouth guard on the other hand are more like splints and are not as flexible as one used for Bruxism. It helps to relocate the TM joint by elevating it slightly and this in turn helps to relieve the pain and discomfort that occurs due to the condition. Your dentist might have to alter the position of the TMJ mouth guard multiple times until the desired results are achieved.
Who Needs an Occlusal Guard?
An occlusal guard might be needed by anybody suffering from Bruxism or teeth grinding. If you suspect that you might be grinding your teeth involuntarily at night, then check some of the symptoms that we have mentioned above.
A dental exam will confirm whether you have Bruxism and need a TMJ mouth guard for treatment.
How Do Occlusal Guards Work?
Occlusal guards absorb the impact that occurs when the two set of teeth constantly grind against each other. This prevents teeth wearing, enamel damage and muscle strain that is common in Bruxism.
They don’t limit or hamper your natural movement in anyway. They act like a cushion in between both sets of teeth so that the persistent grinding doesn’t lead to further damage of your teeth.
The soft cushion also helps relax your jaw muscles which can reduce soreness in the morning after.
Here are some of the benefits of using mouth guards:
- Reduces the constant tension and friction between the jaws
- Reduces muscle soreness, cramps and headaches caused due to TMJ or bruxism
- Realigns your jaw muscles and prevents constant teeth locking
- Cushions the teeth and prevents further wear and tear
When worn regularly, a dental night guard can help prevent gum recession which occurs in advanced stages of untreated Bruxism. It will also significantly improve your dental health and strengthen your teeth.
5 Benefits of Using a Custom Mouth Guard
As we mentioned, there are many advantages of choosing a custom mouth guard for bruxism over a premade one. Here are some of the most notable ones.
- It fits better: Despite what manufacturers say about the advancements in the quality of premade TMJ mouth guards, let’s face it. The fitting will be a hit or a miss. It might fit you well but there is also a high probability that it might not. You will have to constantly close your mouth to keep them in place. This hampers your normal movement and makes it nearly impossible to talk or breathe. Boil-and-bite models will offer slightly better fit. But even then, it won’t be as good a fit as a custom-made one. A custom-made mouth guard adheres perfectly to your teeth. Even if you have misaligned, crooked teeth or if you wear braces, the mold will be customized to the T, accounting for every nook and cranny in your mouth. Lastly, your dentist will check the mouth guard once to ensure that it fits you perfectly.
- It is comfortable: A custom-made mouth guard will be the exact size of your upper or lower jaw. There won’t be any additional bulk. It will be like an extension of your teeth and extremely comfortable to wear. You can keep your mouth open, talk and breathe normally with these. This significantly increases the wear-time, especially in children who might cringe wearing bulky, premade models. No more ‘Forgot to wear it’ or ‘It’s painful.’ Also, this increases the probability that they might wear the guard into adulthood.
- They provide the best protection: A loose or ill-fitting TMJ mouth guard might fall off when you sleep and even increases the risk of choking. A custom-made one on the other hand stays put and protects your teeth from the impact of bruxism. It absorbs the shock that occurs when the teeth are clenched or grinded in a forward and backward motion. If you are using corrective devices like braces or retainers, then it is imperative that you get a custom fitted mouth guard.
- Correct Thickness: The thickness of a custom mouth guard will be adjusted depending on the condition that is being treated. For example, athletes in contact sports such as boxing or MMA will need a thicker mouth guard that offers more cushioning. People who grind their teeth can make do with a slightly thinner one as the impact between the teeth is not as severe as what occurs in contact sports.
- Cost: Custom-fitted mouth guards are expensive. There’s no denying this. However, the upfront cost can save you a lot of hassles and money that would otherwise be spent in reconstructive dental surgeries and procedures later. For example, if you have expensive veneers and implants, protecting them with a custom guard makes more sense than using a premade guard that might not fit at all.
Bruxism or teeth grinding is a serious health problem that must not be ignored. Early and timely diagnosis can help prevent it from progressing into debilitating headaches and limited jaw mobility.
Likewise, with TMJ. Without timely treatment, it can aggravate into advanced stages that require surgical intervention.
All of this, when you can easily avoid it by using simple custom mouth guards. We hope that this helps you understand the symptoms, causes and risks of teeth clenching and grinding.
We have also included the top 5 best mouth guards available on the market for you.
What is your TMJ story? Have you used mouth guards before? Do write into us. We would like to hear about it.