What is a Night Guard and When is it Used?

What is a Night Guard and When is it Used?

A night guard is exactly that, a guard worn at night. It is a somewhat flexible tray that sits over your teeth. The goal of a night guard is to act as a cushion to protect the teeth and the jaw from wear occurring from nocturnal habits such as grinding and clenching. Teeth grinding is when the top and bottom teeth rub together. Teeth clenching is when the jaws press the teeth together, like a firm constant bite. Both habits are subconscious and are a form of a sleep motion disorder, and both are very common. 

How Does a Night Guard Help? 

When worn properly and frequently, a night guard helps to prevent wear on the tooth’s biting surfaces. The night guard absorbs the strong biting or clenching forces from the jaws and acts as a cushion to absorb these forces. Additionally, when wearing a night guard, the biting and clenching forces are evenly distributed throughout the jaw and teeth. There are several different models of night guards to choose from depending on your needs and what will work best for you. Some are thinner, some are thicker, some can be worn on the top teeth, some can be worn on the bottom teeth.

Important Tips 

  • Wear your night guard every night for the best protection
  • It is difficult to adjust when first wearing a night guard, so give it a few weeks until you get comfortable wearing one
  • Inspect the night guard periodically for damage. It may need replacement if there is excessive damage
  • Clean your night guard daily with a toothbrush and warm water. Avoid hot water because it may warp the plastic 
  • You night guard should fit snugly on your teeth. Let your dentist know if the fit feels loose. 

If you think that you are clenching or grinding your teeth and you think that you would benefit from a night guard, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment. 

Learn How A Nightguard Can Help To Protect Your Smile

Learn How A Nightguard Can Help To Protect Your Smile

At least 10% of the population grinds or clenches their teeth at night. This habit is called “bruxism” and is a form of sleep movement disorder. You may not be aware of it until your dentist professional sees signs of wear on your teeth. Symptoms of clenching and grinding consist of headaches, neck aches, and soreness in the muscles of the cheeks and jaw. As well as pain in the jaw joint and chipping, fractures, and sensitivity in the teeth. A nightguard works by preventing tooth on tooth contact of the teeth. Listed below are a few benefits of wearing a night guard. 

Preventing Tooth Wear With A Nightguard

One of the most common effects of clenching and grinding is wear to the biting surfaces of the teeth. Often, with grinding, the teeth will have a more flattened shortened appearance. With clenching, indentations of the opposing cusps can be seen. Sometimes these signs won’t be noticed until you see your dentist or dental hygienist. Wear to the biting surfaces of the teeth can lead to sensitivity from the loss of enamel. Sometimes if the wear is deep, a filling may need to be placed to protect the enamel that remains. Wearing a nightguard doesn’t stop clenching or grinding, but it places the wear on the nightguard itself.

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Preventing Chips and Fractures 

Chips and fractures of the teeth surfaces can occur from clenching and grinding. When a spot is worn down too much and becomes thin, sometimes it can chip off. Fillings must be placed to restore these areas and wearing a nightguard will prevent them from occurring.  

Preventing Bone Loss 

Constant excess pressure on the teeth can cause the bone and gum support from around the teeth to slowly recede away. This happens because the teeth and bone support are not meant to bear such an excess load, and the cells begin to resorb. This process happens over time slowly, but once gum and bone are lost, they cannot grow back on their own. Wearing a nightguard prevents the excessive force on the teeth that cause recession and bone loss.  

Preventing TMJ Issues 

Grinding and clenching can cause pain and soreness with the jaw joint, called the temporomandibular joint. The TMJ (for short) is not meant to bare the excessive force of clenching and grinding and can sustain injury overtime. Wearing a nightguard adds a cushion between the teeth that absorbs the forces and protects the jaw.  

If you believe you are clenching or grinding and would benefit from a nightguard, or have any questions about them, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.