A night guard is an oral appliance you wear over your top teeth while you sleep. It protects your teeth from grinding and clenching. Night guards can also correct some bite issues.
Your teeth naturally come together when you close your mouth. You bite together to bite and chew. Sometimes, you bite together even when you don’t intend to. These are called “parafunctional” habits.
A night guard works to prevent teeth grinding by providing a protective barrier between the upper and lower teeth. Mouth guards protect the teeth, the gums, and the temporomandibular joints (TMJs). Night guards are also called “occlusal splints.”
A night guard is a removable appliance worn at night. They prevent patients from grinding their teeth in their sleep, hence the name night guard. Teeth grinding, or bruxism, can cause patients to experience the following symptoms:
1. Jaw pain and tightness
2. Sensitive teeth
3. Wear and tear on the teeth
4. Damage to the dental work (fillings, crowns, bridges, etc.)
5. Can cause TMJ disorder
A night guard is custom fitted to each patient. They are made of acrylic and are usually used on the top teeth. They fit over your upper teeth, similar to a retainer. They are less bulky than a full mouth guard and are easier to wear.
The benefits of a night guard go beyond the aesthetic. A night guard can help protect your teeth from nighttime teeth grinding and clenching. It can also help you maintain proper alignment of your jaw.
Keeping your dental night guard clean is easy. Simply rinse it off with warm water in the morning when you wake up and before you go to bed at night. There’s no need to soak it overnight or brush it.
Most dental night guards will last about two to three years before a replacement is needed. However, your dental night guard may need to be replaced sooner if there are cracks or deep grooves that might trap food particles and bacteria. If your current dental night guard is old or doesn’t fit as well anymore, contact your dentist to discuss your treatment options.
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