What is a night guard, and what is it for?
A night guard is an oral appliance that protects your gums and teeth from forces exerted from grinding and clenching teeth during sleep. Grinding (bruxism) and clenching habits can cause substantial damage as teeth, as well as both upper and lower jaws are subjected to constant force. With enough force and persistent habit, chewing surfaces mostly on the back teeth become flat as teeth enamel wears down, and may even fracture teeth. Clenching and grinding have negative impact on other structures besides your teeth. Upon jaw clenching, jaw muscles are activated and exerts pressure on jaw muscles, tissues and surrounding structures. Furthermore, grinding can cause extensive damage and may result in temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, which is a misalignment of the TMJ. Temporomandibular joint basically holds upper and lower jaw in place and allows movement of lower jaw. Misalignment of TMJ can cause persistent headaches, clicking in the jaw, and may limit opening of the mouth.
Who needs a night guard?
Many individuals grind (dental term “bruxism”) teeth subconsciously during sleep, and tend to wake up with headaches in the morning as a result. Many also consciously grind and/ or clench as a coping mechanism to anxiety or stress stimuli. Anyone who grinds at nighttime and/or clench as a habit is an ideal candidate for a night guard in order to provide protection from further damage.
Night guard procedure?
Night guard procedure is fairly simple, and can be done within two visits to the dental office. Once grinding, clenching, and/or TMJ disorder is diagnosed by the dentist, a treatment plan will be developed that outlines the detail of the procedure. An impression is taken on the first visit, and this negative imprint of your teeth will be sent out to an external lab to fabricate a night guard that is specifically made to fit you. A night guard is made of thermoplastic material that is strong yet flexible enough to provide comfortable fit. At your second visit, fit of the customized night guard will be assessed by the dentist and adjustments can be made as necessary.
What’s the difference between professional made vs. over-the-counter night guard?
Customized night guard fabricated by a laboratory technician is highly recommended than to purchase an over-the-counter night guard product at a nearby drugstore. Over-the-counter night guards lack in overall quality and thus is not as effective as a customized night guard. Many store-bought night guards tend to be either too thick or thin, which can be even more damaging to your teeth. Laboratory technicians will determine the appropriate thickness of the night guard depending on your natural bite to ensure it contours your teeth and gums perfectly; this will provide maximum comfort as a result.
Saban Family Dental is located in Etobicoke, ON at 325 Burnhamthorpe Rd and offers a complete range of dental services for children, adults, and seniors.