This is a great question.
It’s also one without a great answer. The answer to the question of nightguard longevity will differ for each person. We know that isn’t the answer you want to hear, but it is the truth.
The general answer is that a nightguard’s lifespan depends on a variety of factors, including how hard you clench your teeth, what dental work is present on the teeth, and of what material the nightguard consists.
Why Do Nightguards Wear Out?
Nightguards create a barrier between the upper and lower teeth with the goal of protecting the teeth, gums, jaw joints, and facial muscles against the harmful effects of teeth clenching and grinding. A nightguard receives the heavy forces associated with clenching and/or grinding during sleep.
The nightguard is the recipient of these harmful effects, which is the reason that it will eventually wear out over time. The good news is that nightguard is receiving these forces, and your teeth are not.
Wearing a nightguard and seeing the damage it accrues actually helps some people to understand how heavily they clench or grind at night. (Yes, some people clench or grind heavily without being aware of it!)
Will Different Types of Nightguard Last Longer?
Nightguards come in a variety of materials. It is possible to “chew through” a nightguard made from a softer material. Typically, over-the-counter mouthpieces use a soft, rubbery material that you can heat and mold to fit over your teeth. While this material is convenient, readily available at your local stores, and inexpensive, it also has the shortest lifespan.
Most professional nightguards (made by your dentist) consist of a hard material that is more resistant to the forces of clenching and grinding. These materials will last longer than many others, but they are still susceptible to the damage caused by heavy grinding.
In the past, we have used hard acrylic to create a strong barrier between the teeth. We now have newer materials that are even stronger!
If They Don’t Last Forever, Why Should I Invest in One?
We know nightguards can be a significant investment, especially for those without insurance coverage of them. The most important thing to consider is the dental work that you do NOT need because you are protecting your teeth from these heavy forces of clenching or grinding.
While a nightguard seems expensive, it is around half the cost of a single dental crown, which would be necessary if you cracked a tooth. We commonly see and treat cracked teeth as the result of unprotected clenching and grinding.
When you consider that your nightguard protects you against damage on multiple teeth, the benefit far outweighs the cost.
Wearing a professional nightguard consistently can save you thousands of dollars in dental treatments over your lifetime!
I Do Wear a Professional Nightguard, and I Grind Through it So Quickly! What Can I Do?
Wearing a nightguard does not stop the grinding habit. It protects your teeth, gums, jaw joints and muscles from the damage that clenching or grinding can cause. Those who are able to grind through the hard materials of a professional nightguard in a year or less need to speak with their dentist about how to reduce the forces of their subconscious habit.
We typically recommend a combination of therapies, including physical therapy, chiropractic care, and Botox injections to relax the muscles of the face and temples.
There is no “cure” for teeth clenching and grinding, but it is a manageable problem. You can prevent the dental problems that result from heavy clenching and/or grinding by consistently wearing a nightguard, and, yes, replacing your nightguard when it wears out.
More Questions about Nightguards?
Call Prosper Family Dentistry at 972-347-1145 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara and Dr. Summer. They can answer any question you have about nightguards and assess your current situation.