Dental Blog

Do I Need a Mouth Guard or Night Guard?

Do I Need a Mouth Guard or Night Guard?

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Do I Need a Mouth Guard or Night GuardIt’s not uncommon for our patients to confuse mouth guards with night guards. While both oral appliances protect your teeth from injury, they do so in different ways.

A night guard protects your smile from teeth grinding, which can cause serious damage to your teeth while you sleep. Mouth guards, on the other hand, protect teeth from impact damage while playing sports. For example, a football mouth guard prevents chipped or fractured teeth after being tackled.

Keep reading to learn how our dentist uses mouth and night guards to protect your oral health.

Night Guards

Do you grind your teeth at night? If so, we may recommend a custom night guard to protect your teeth. A dental night guard protects your smile by forming a protective layer between your upper and lower teeth.

Many people are unaware that they clench or grind their teeth at night until they describe their symptoms to their family dentist.

Some common symptoms of teeth grinding include:

  • Jaw pain or tenderness
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Chipped or fractured teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Headache
  • Earache

Over time, the forces exerted from bruxism are enough to chip or break your teeth. To avoid permanent damage to your smile, we recommend scheduling an appointment with our dentist. He will be able to create a teeth grinding guard.

During your first appointment, our dentist will take impressions of your teeth and send them to a lab. Once your night mouth guard is ready, our dentist will be able to make slight adjustments to the fit so you can breathe and sleep comfortably.

While wearing a bruxism mouth guard takes some getting used to, it will be worth protecting your smile. Many of our patients are able to avoid needing restorative dental care by wearing a night guard for teeth grinding. Bruxism, if left untreated, can lead to jaw pain, tooth loss, and other oral health issues. Not only does wearing a night guard save you money in the long run, but it also helps protect your oral health.

Night guards are also sometimes used to treat cases of obstructive sleep apnea. This most common form of sleep apnea occurs when soft tissue blocks your airway as you sleep. By wearing a custom night guard, your jaw will remain aligned and your airway will stay open even when you’re unconscious.

While not every sleep apnea patient will benefit from this type of treatment, it’s been successful in many cases and can help you avoid other types of expensive equipment or medical procedures.

Sports Mouth Guards

Do you play a contact sport? If so, you’ll want to ask our dentist about getting a custom mouth guard. A sports mouth guard protects your teeth and gums from impact injury so you can concentrate on playing your best game.

Mouth guards are usually recommended for children who will be playing sports either on a competitive team or in gym class, but patients of all ages would benefit from the protection that a mouth guard offers. Whether you play sports for a living or just enjoy the occasional game with your friends, a mouth guard can protect your smile while you do it.

We recommend you get a dental guard if you play football, hockey, boxing, or other contact sports. However, even athletes who play non-contact sports (like mountain biking or ice skating) can benefit from wearing a teeth guard. No matter what sport you play, our dentist will be able to create the best mouth guard for your smile.

Taking care of your sports mouth guard is important if you want it to last. If you start to notice any wear and tear, such as rips, holes, or a looser fit, give our dentist a call so you can have a new one made. An ill-fitting mouth guard can leave you susceptible to injury.

The last thing you want is to have your season cut short by a trip to our emergency dentist. By wearing a mouth guard, you’ll also be able to avoid paying for dental crowns, implants, and other restorative dentistry services.

Call Macatawa Smiles Today!

Dr. Brenton Habecker at Macatawa Smiles is dedicated to helping you maintain good oral health by preventing injury from teeth grinding or contact sports. To request an appointment with our dentist in Holland, MI, call our office at (616) 396-7524.

This blog post has been updated.


Dear Patient Family,

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for all of us. Many of you have been forced to wait for dental care and we appreciate your understanding while we kept our office closed to follow orders from the Governor's Office.

We are happy to say that we are opening our office for all patient treatment on June 1st, 2020. Our hours of operation will go back to normal, Monday-Thursday 8am - 5pm. We want you to know that there will be some changes at your next appointment. Please be patient with us as our protocols will inevitably change as new guidelines are released.

  • We ask that you use our parking lot as the waiting room.
  • Please wear a mask when you come into the office and leave it on until entering the treatment room. Homemade is acceptable.
  • Only the person receiving treatment should come in the building, all others will be asked to wait in the car if at all possible. The exception will be for our minor patients who may have one parent accompany them.
  • We will be asking you some questions when you arrive at the office and we will also be taking your temperature.
  • We will not be able to offer magazines, drinks, or toys at this time as they cannot be disinfected to our standards. Eventually this will change and we will be happy to offer our amenities once again.

These changes have been made to adhere to the latest CDC guidelines and for the benefit of our patients and our staff. We want you to know that our office has always taken the safety of our patients very seriously and that we will continue to follow the highest levels of sterilization and disinfection to keep you protected. If you would like more information on what measures we have taken we would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

We cannot say how excited we are to see all of our patients again and to provide for their dental needs. We look forward to seeing all of your smiling faces soon!

Dr. Habecker and Team