Different Types of Night Guards

October 05, 2023

types of night guards
Dylan Schubert | Blog Author at Pro-Craft

Written by:
Dylan Schubert

Night guards are invaluable dental devices that protect your teeth and jaws from harm through nighttime teeth grinding and clenching, known as bruxism. Night guards come in various styles, tailored to address specific dental conditions and patient needs. Due to the different types of dental night guards available, here is more information about their characteristics, purposes, and suitability for various dental conditions so that patients and dental professionals can make informed decisions for optimal oral health and comfort.

What Do Night Guards Do?

A dental night guard provides crucial protection and relief during sleep. It primarily shields teeth from the potential damage caused by teeth clenching or grinding during the nighttime by acting as a cushioning barrier to absorb and disperse the force of clenching. 

Night guards prevent: 

  • Chipped teeth 
  • Enamel erosion 
  • Issues caused by temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, including jaw discomfort, headaches, and migraines

Alongside those many benefits, night guards can reduce snoring, as specially designed night guards reposition the jaw slightly to help open up the airway and mitigate snoring. 

Aside from snoring, night guards help with treating sleep apnea by: 

  • Repositioning your lower jaw and tongue 
  • Maintaining an open airway during sleep
  • Reducing the frequency of breathing interruptions. 

By helping take care of these issues, night guards ultimately lead to improved sleep quality, positively impacting overall well-being and daytime functioning. As a result, dental professionals highly recommend these dental devices for oral health support and general well-being.

Categories of Night Guards

There are various night guards to wear, which are available over-the-counter or custom-made in a dental lab. Even if you get one of the best OTC night guards, customized night guards tend to be of better quality, as they last longer and are professionally made in the lab using dental impressions of your teeth. However, unlike custom night guards, OTC options are easily accessible at most pharmacies and sporting goods stores, making them convenient.

There are two primary types of OTC night guards available:

  • Boil-and-Bite Night Guards: Most commonly found in drugstores, they are made of thermoplastic material. The fitting process involves immersing the guard in boiling water to soften it then you bite into it, shaping it to conform to your teeth. This method is customizable, but the fit may not be as precise as a professionally customized guard.
  • One-Size-Fits-All Guards: Ready-made and come in a standard size and shape, eliminating the need for any fitting process. However, this means there is no customization so they can be uncomfortable or ill-fitting because of variations in mouth size and shape.

OTC night guards are easily accessible and affordable but come with many limitations. They tend to lack the precision and durability of custom night guards crafted with the guidance of dental professionals to ensure the best fit and protection. 

Types of Night Guards

There is an array of customizable night guards to wear, with three main types to choose from:

  • Hard night guards 
  • Soft night guards 
  • Dual-laminate night guards  

Depending on your dental needs and sleeping habits, these nightguards can help with a 

Hard Night Guards


A hard nightguard, or a rigid night guard, is a dental appliance manufactured from a firm acrylic material, designed specifically for anyone exhibiting more pronounced teeth grinding during sleep. Its robust construction provides superior protection against the forces generated by bruxism, offering long-lasting durability and comfort to manage this condition effectively. These are also the best types of night guards for TMJ management.

Due to their sturdiness, hard night guards are well-suited for long-term use, with durability that can withstand the wear and tear of bruxism over time. They are also ideal if you want night guards for clenching teeth issues.

Soft Night Guards

Soft nightguards are crafted from a pliable plastic or rubber material. When comparing hard night guards vs. soft night guards, the latter's flexible design is best if you have mild to moderate bruxism or minor temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD). The pliable nature of the material provides a cushioning effect, making soft night guards comfortable for anyone with less severe bruxism.

One thing to keep in mind is that the soft night guard's distinct "gummy" feel may encourage you to chew or play with it, potentially leading to a shorter lifespan compared to hard night guards. The softer material also may not provide the same level of protection against grinding, so dentists will assess the severity of these conditions and recommend the best solution based on your personal needs and habits.

Dual-Laminate Night Guards

Webpage Thumbnail - Impact Zone Dual Laminate V2

A dual laminate night guard (hard/soft night guard) blends the advantages of both soft and hard night guards into a single device. These night guards feature dual-layer construction with a soft, pliable interior and firm outer layer.

The inner layer is typically made from pliable plastic or rubber for exceptional comfort during wear. It has the same cushioning effect as a soft night guard, which absorbs the impact of teeth grinding or clenching while promoting a less intrusive experience. 

The outer layer of the night guard uses a firm material, often acrylic, so it is solid and durable. Its protective outer barrier ensures the guard maintains its shape and structural integrity over time.

These layers combine the comfort of a soft night guard with the durability of a hard night guard. Dual laminate night guards, like the Impact Zone Talon Nightguard, are perfect for anyone suffering from bruxism or TMJD.

Getting The Best Night Guard for Your Patients

As a dentist, you want to work with a trusted partner to provide your patients with high aesthetic anterior restorations, premium removable products, and complex implant cases. Precision, comfort, and patient satisfaction are our priorities at PRO-Craft Dental Laboratory.

With state-of-the-art technology and a family-owned operation that has been around since 1979, PRO-Craft Dental Laboratory's dedication to crafting custom-fit night guards tailored to your patient's unique needs means you can provide your patients with the best care possible. Whether your patient is looking for night guards or sports mouthguards, we offer a comprehensive range of options based on various dental conditions and patient preferences.

Make the right choice for your patient's oral health and well-being, and contact PRO-Craft Dental Lab today to elevate the quality of care you provide. 

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