What is a dental night guard?

September 19, 2015

What is a dental night guard?
Dental night guards prevent wearing down the occlusal surfaces of the teeth
Dental night guard, or mouth guard, is a dental appliance worn during sleep that relieves muscle pain and protects the teeth.

Night guards are also referred to as mouth guards and serve the purpose of protecting your teeth. They fit over the upper or lower teeth and cover the entire jaw. It serves as a slim barrier between the biting surfaces of the teeth. These are made of acrylic and are generally worn at night or while sleeping, hence the name night guards.


Dental Night Guards Uses

Apart from its primary function of shielding teeth, it also offers several additional benefits.

  1. Mouth guards prevent attrition or grinding of the teeth by forming a barrier. They minimize the wearing down of the teeth over time.
  2. As these cover the entire jaw, they help to distribute grinding and clenching forces, thus protecting the teeth from the effects of bruxism.
  3. Night guards are especially helpful in preventing restoration failures, i.e., increases the durability of dental crowns, fillings and implants.
  4. In the case of porcelain restorations, prevention becomes even more important. Porcelain restorations tend to fracture under excess force. Besides, these also are more harmful to the opposing teeth.
  5. They increase the vertical dimension between the occlusal or biting surfaces, thereby helping to relax masticatory muscles.
  6. Night guards are sometimes used to improve the position of the jaw. Thus they help to relieve TMJ disorders, aching jaws, headaches and other related symptoms.
  7. People who have been fitted with braces use night guards to cover their braces. This reduces the pain and abrasion of poking braces. They also reduce the chances of developing sores and cuts along the inner lips and cheeks.


Mouth Guard Drawbacks

Normally, a well-fitted night guard that is under regular monitoring of your dentist should not have any issues. However, some people find it cumbersome or may find that it increases their symptoms initially. In this case a visit to your dentist is called for who can adjust the night guard to provide optimum results.


Night Guard Types

There are three types of night guards:

  1. Stock. These are inexpensive and easily available over the counter in stores. But as they are one size fit all, they may be too bulky or loose. They will therefore not provide ideal results. They are not recommended by dentists especially if you have an existing TMJ disorder.
  2. Boil and bite night guards. Again these are readily available at drugstores but as is obvious from its name they should be boiled first to soften them. Once they are adequately soft you place them in your mouth, allowing it to contour according to your teeth.
  3. Custom guards. These are made according to exact specifications after taking your measurements. Hence these fit most accurately and offer maximum results. Custom mouth guards are the dentists recommendation. They are created and fitted under a specialist supervision and offer maximum results


Instructions for Care

As with all dental appliances, night guards need to be cleaned regularly. You should rinse it thoroughly or brush it gently before putting it in your mouth. Clean similarly after removal. This reduces the chances of introducing germs into your mouth. You can also clean them with soapy water from time to time.

If you need to carry it with you keep it in a case that has tiny holes to let air pass. It is also worthwhile to check it for damage and replace every 2-3 years.


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