Custom designed occlusal guards, also called night guards, mouthguards, splints and/or bruxing appliances, are made of flexible plastic and molded to fit the shape of your teeth.
They are generally made to be worn over the biting surfaces of either the upper or lower teeth, and are easily inserted and removed by the patient.
Occlusal guards accomplish three main functions:
Nightguards may be recommended for patients who clench or grind their teeth at night as a way to protect their teeth and bite.
Teeth grinding and clenching are common habits, but that doesn't mean they are harmless. Stresses from the powerful forces generated by grinding and clenching, also known as bruxing, can wear down teeth or even loosen them.
Teeth that have enamel worn away or scraped off from this repeated rubbing action may become sensitive to hot or cold. And dental work such as crowns and fillings may get damaged. Bruxism can also lead to jaw pain and/or headaches.
In order to treat your worn teeth, the cause of the wear must be determined during a simple oral examination at the dental office. Once the cause has been identified, the stresses on your teeth can be reduced if need be. For example, you may need instruction on gentle, effective tooth brushing techniques; or some changes to your diet. If you have a clenching or grinding habit, a mouthguard can be custom-made for you that will protect your teeth during sleep or periods of high stress.
Lost tooth structure sometimes needs to be replaced so your bite functions properly and your teeth look great once again. Depending on the situation, this can be done with bonding, veneers, or crowns. Fortunately, modern dentistry can restore the normal shape, appearance and function of worn teeth, both beautifully and successfully!
It's important to be evaluated regularly by your dentist to help prevent teeth wearing before it becomes an issue. Regular exams can help determine if a mouthguard is right for you!