If you grind your teeth or have trouble breathing while you sleep, a nighttime mouth guard could be the answer.
Here’s some information to help you understand these simple and effective devices.
Night guards can be used to treat sleeping conditions and disorders, including:1
- Bruxism—Also known as teeth grinding, bruxism is when you unconsciously grind or clench your teeth. By wearing a custom night guard, you can keep your top and bottom teeth separated so they don’t damage each other from the pressure of grinding or clenching.
- Sleep apnea—Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that causes you to temporarily stop breathing while asleep. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are used for more extreme cases, but if you have a mild case, a custom night guard can help keep your airways open while you sleep.
- Snoring—While technically not a medical condition, snoring can affect your quality of sleep and anyone else who can hear it. Night guards for snoring work by pulling your lower jaw forward to keep your airway open, similar to night guards for sleep apnea.
Your dentist may choose your night guard for you, but some common types are:2
- Stock—Available in most drug stores, this is the most affordable type of night guard. They come in basic sizes (S, M, L, etc.) and are not customized to fit your teeth and mouth.
- Boil-and-bite—Also inexpensive and widely available, boil-and-bite night guards come in one size that you can customize. Just boil it in water until it softens, cool it down with cold water, then bite down on it so it forms over your teeth.
- Custom-made—The most expensive type, custom-made night guards are created from a mold of your teeth. However, the higher price can also provide a higher quality device and a tighter, more comfortable fit.
Your night guard spends a lot of time in your mouth, so here are some tips to keep it clean and protected:3
- Rinse it with cool water or mouthwash before and after use
- Clean your night guard after each use with a toothbrush and toothpaste
- Store it in a hard case with ventilation so its protected and can dry out between uses
- Check for holes or other signs of damage every day
- Bring it to your appointments so your dentist can make sure it fits and works properly
Most dental insurance plans cover preventive care like cleanings and X-rays, but not all plans pay for night guards. Check with your provider to see if some or all of the cost may be covered.
If you need dental treatment for bruxism, Humana can help. We offer a broad range of dental plans with varying levels of coverage, many with low monthly premiums. Some of our plans also feature no waiting periods, which means you could get covered in about 5 days. To see plans and prices in your area, check out our Humana Insurance Company dental insurance page.