Hard nightguards, soft nightguards, and orthotics are the three most common types of oral appliances that are regularly used to support and protect the jaw joints, muscles,
The three appliances may appear to be very similar, but the functional difference in the mouth are significant. Different appliances are used for different purposes, and are not interchangeable.
Once the most common style of nightguards, this type of guard is slowly falling out of favor. While a soft nightguard will protect the teeth from being damaged further from grinding, studies are showing that a soft nightguard can actually encourage grinding up to 50%. Professionally made custom soft guards are small and comfortable, but may wear down a bit quicker than hard guards. This is a good cost effective option for someone looking to protect their teeth from grinding damage, but do not have TMJ or headache pain.
The hard nightguard is small and low profile yet very durable. They are generally recommended for moderate to extreme grinders and clenchers and/or for people suffering from TMJ discomfort. Hard nightguards also snap on and stay in place.
An orthotic appliance is the most specialized of the three. Unlike the hard or soft nightguards, an orthotic is designed to align the lower jaw and its supporting muscles into a more comfortable position and bite. Orthotics are used to stabilize the bite and minimize the symptoms of TMJ discomfort. Unlike soft and hard nightguards, an orthotic requires both impressions, AND a relaxed bite registration, which takes much more time and expertise than fabricating just a hard or soft nightguard.
We hope this brief outline of hard nightguards, soft nightguards, and orthotics help you in your decision making process. Remember we are always here for you, and are happy to answer any questions or address any concerns you may have.
We look forward to seeing you soon!