As essential as night guards are to those of us who rely on them, it’s amazing how quickly we can begin to take them for granted, forgetting to clean them or inspect them for damage. Even a high quality night guard will need to be replaced in two to three years time, and less expensive guards will usually need to be replaced yearly. There are several things to keep in mind when assessing wear and tear on your night guard.
It’s very important that your night guard continues to fit correctly. Heavy wear, new dental work such as crowns and fillings, or a lost tooth can all change the fit of your night guard. Poor fit can cause tooth pain, jaw stiffness, and even changes in dental alignment. If your guard feels loose, seems to move more than it used to, has visibly worn patches, holes, or gouges, or causes any tooth pain have it checked by your dentist.
Consistent and thorough cleaning of both your night guard and its case will help to keep it in good condition for a much longer time, but cannot forestall the need for replacement indefinitely. Color changes in your night guard generally signal that it’s time to have it replaced. Yellowing or stains that cannot be removed are signs that small cracks, pits and scratches will soon develop. These small cracks will both weaken the guard and make it impossible to clean.
Tiny cracks or pits on the surface of your night guard cannot be kept free of bacteria that negatively affect your oral health. A night guard that cannot be adequately disinfected can infect your teeth and gums and severely irritate the tissue inside your cheeks. If you find yourself waking up with mouth sores, see your dentist to rule out any other underlying cause.