If you're like many people, perhaps you don't think wearing a night guard is necessary. After all, what's the point?
Well, there are a few reasons why wearing a night guard might be a good idea. For one, if you have any type of dental problem that could cause your teeth to move around or you grind your teeth during sleep, wearing a night guard can help keep them in place. Additionally, if you wear a night guard while sleeping, you'll likely experience less tooth pain in the morning due to less movement during sleep.
You want the benefits that come with wearing a night guard, but how do you form the habit of wearing a night guard?
Here are six of the best night guard-wearing habits you can try today.
Before trying to form a nightguard-wearing habit in the coming weeks, start by fully understanding why you need the dental appliance.
Night guards are sometimes called mouth guards and are commonly used to treat bruxism, a condition where an individual tends to grind or clench their teeth unconsciously while sleeping. Doing this is bad for you since it can wear your teeth down and cause unwanted jaw and neck pain, as well as headaches.
The night guard acts as a barrier between your teeth, so instead of your pearly whites gnashing against each other, they’re cushioned and do less or no damage. Night guards are the last line of defense for those who are chipping or grinding their teeth down every night.
Like most new things, night guards require a break-in period, where you get comfortable with the nuances of the product and get accustomed to how it works and feels in your mouth. You don’t have to wear the mouth night guard every night right away. If you’re finding it hard to get used to wearing it, don’t force yourself to wear it all night in 8-hour periods. Instead, try to ease yourself into the new practice in short bursts.
That said, you can try to start wearing your night guard in quick 10-minute sessions to get a feel for the device. Do your best not to forcibly remove it during this time, and instead go about your daily chores or work. If possible, wear it several times to get used to the mouth guard sooner. Gradually increase the time you wear your night guard during the day until you can keep it in for about an hour or two.
If at times you’ve forgotten that you’re wearing it, then congratulations! You’re one step closer to forming a healthy habit.
Getting used to your new mouth night guard will take time, so it’s helpful to wear it while doing other tasks that will take your mind off the new appliance in your mouth.
You can form a habit by putting the night guard on 20 to 30 minutes before lying down, or wearing it as you go through your pre-sleep routine. It’s a good idea to have the mouth guard on as you do some light stretching while watching TV or reading a book. The key thing is to get accustomed to the mouth feel of the guard and keep it out of the forefront of your mind. As a side note, if you constantly wake up during the night because of the irritation, it may help to get a few more pillows to elevate your head.
Remember that it takes roughly 21 days, or three weeks to form a habit. It’s okay if you feel uncomfortable wearing a mouth guard for the first few days. You might even wonder if you could ever form a habit of wearing a nightguard. But you should stay positive and patient as you go through the process.
Give your body, specifically your mouth, time to adjust to the new dental device. It may happen after a week, or maybe two, but stick with the routine and refrain from responding to the urge of taking the nightguard out just because you’re not comfortable. Soon, the new sensation will subside and you won’t feel like you’re wearing a night guard at all.
Custom mouth night guards typically require a shorter break-in period than standard nightguards because they’re thinner and made of more comfortable material. If you find yourself struggling to get some quality shut-eye after a week or so of trying your new mouth night guard, it may be time for a new one.
A custom night guard takes an impression of your teeth for a customized fit. Unlike over-the-counter products, these dental devices are made from softer, mouth-friendly materials and are made with comfort in mind. They offer the same benefits and make it easier for the wearer to form a long-lasting habit.
Who says breaking in a night guard has to be painful? You can set up a reward system for milestones, such as wearing your night guard for the first week. It can be a small treat, a pat on
the back from family members, or something that makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something.
Rewarding yourself makes habit-forming easier and quicker. With positive reinforcement, you’ll be more likely to follow through to the end. When you reward yourself, you feel good and will want to wear your night guard again.
Now that you know its importance, forming the habit of wearing a night guard should be easier and less painful. Keeping the benefits of a mouth night guard in mind and how it can protect your teeth, gums, and jaws can boost your resolve and help you stay determined to wear it every night. Once you get used to it then you’re already getting the health benefits, which include a beautiful smile!