What is a night guard?
A night guard is a piece of plastic that covers either your top or bottom teeth. It serves a dual function: 1) to protect your teeth and oral structures from the harmful effects of grinding 2) to separate your teeth slightly, which may relax the jaw muscles and lessen their tendency to activate and cause bruxism.
When do you need a night guard?
We often recommend night guards for people with clinical teeth grinding, also called bruxism. Bruxism can lead to fractured and worn teeth with jaw and facial pain, earaches, and possible migraines. It is very hard to prevent people from grinding. However, properly managing the effects is almost as good as preventing it. The most common treatment is to have you wear a night guard, so that your teeth, jaw joint, and facial muscles are protected from the harmful nocturnal forces stemming from bruxism.
Often people who suffer from bruxism are not even aware of it. The first person to notice may be your significant other, because nighttime bruxism can produce a loud scraping noise as the teeth grind together. Also, your dentist may notice the telltale signs of bruxism by looking at the wear patterns and “cratering” that may occur on the chewing surfaces of your teeth. If bruxism is not properly addressed, it can lead to chronic pain of the TMJ (TMD); it may also lead to irreversible damage of the teeth, which would necessitate extensive restorative dentistry to restore proper form, function and aesthetics. Something as simple as wearing a nightguard every night may go a long way towards preventing or minimizing all this.
How is a night guard made?
At Pure Dental Arts, the process for making night guards is first to take impressions, or molds, of your teeth. Those are sent to the lab, and a custom precision night guard is fabricated, and then sent back to our office. We then check the fit in your mouth and make any small adjustments necessary.