Night guards, or occlusal guards, are special devices that help protect your teeth from destructive grinding force while sleeping or, in some cases, during the day. Patients that grind and clench their teeth at night are usually good candidates for these appliances as the device can reduce tooth damage, jaw pain, headaches, and other issues.
Night guards are created by taking impressions of your teeth and then sending them to a dental laboratory. The laboratory creates a comfortable, custom acrylic device that slips over the top of one arch of teeth. The dentist will then adjust the appliance to ensure a comfortable, appropriate bite that will help reduce the stress and trauma to the temporomandibular joint and its supporting muscles and teeth.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is the term dentists use to refer to the clenching of the jaw or the grinding of the teeth. While it can occur during the daytime, it most often happens at night. Because bruxism occurs mainly at night, many patients are unaware they are clenching or grinding their teeth and are unable to stop withouth the help of a protective device.
Bruxism can lead to:
Worn or fractured teeth
Jaw pain or TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ)
Frequent ear pain on one side
Stiffness of the jaw or neck especially shortly after waking
Raw areas on the inside of the cheek
- Fatigue and fitful sleep
We’re usually able to diagnose bruxism simply by examining the teeth and inside of the mouth. X-rays may be taken to detect any changes in the teeth or jaw.
Advantages of Night Guards
While the night guard won’t stop patients from grinding or clinching their teeth, these devices can reduce damage to the teeth and reduce pain in the jaw muscles. They can also eliminate jaw pain, headaches and other issues. Night guards do not interfere with normal sleep patterns. They are comfortable and easy to insert and remove.