Bruxism, Braces, and Night Guards

Are you a nighttime teeth grinder? For non-grinders to understand the effects of teeth grinding, imagine chewing gum for 8-9 hours a day without stopping. Teeth grinding causes headaches, muscle pain, and oral damage worse than what a constant gum chewer would experience as a result. Fortunately, those who suffer from bruxism (teeth grinding) can prevent the pain and damage with a night guard. Not only can night guards benefit the teeth grinder but also the patient with abrasive or poky braces causing cuts or sores along the jaw and lips

Night Guards

Professional mouth guards or night guards are designed to protect your teeth. They cover the entire jaw and fit over the upper or lower teeth. They serve as a slim barrier between the biting surfaces of the teeth. If there is anything more destructive or harsh on the enamel of your teeth, it’s the enamel of the opposing teeth which is how night guards protect against “shrinking” teeth. Night guards are generally worn while sleeping and are made of acrylic which makes them perfect for form fitting to your teeth without the bulkiness of other materials.

Uses and Benefits

Apart from its primary function of shielding teeth, mouth guards also...

  • Prevent grinding of the teeth (attrition) by forming a barrier in addition to minimizing the wearing down of the teeth over time.
  • By covering the entire jaw, mouth guards help to distribute grinding and clenching forces of bruxism (teeth grinding).
  • Night guards prevent restoration failures, meaning they increase the durability of dental crowns, fillings and implants. This is especially important in the case of porcelain restorations because they tend to fracture under extreme force and can be more harmful to the opposing teeth than a natural tooth.
  • They relax masticatory muscles (give your chewing muscles a break!).
  • Night guards can improve the position of the jaw which can relieve TMJ disorders, aching jaws, headaches and other related issues.
  • Patients with braces can use night guards to cover their braces to reduce the pain from abrasive and poky braces. Braces-wearers with night guards experience less of the sores and cuts along the inner lips and cheeks that braces often cause.

Drawbacks to Night Guards

If you have a well-fitted night guard monitored regularly by your dentist, you should not have any issues. However, some people find night guards cumbersome and may even find that their symptoms increase upon first use. Fortunately, your dentist can adjust your night guard to reduce whatever annoyances and ensure optimum results. Whatever the initial problems with a dental night guard, however, the benefits certainly outweigh whatever initial physical toll on you. As placing the mouth guard nightly becomes habit, you (and your teeth) will quickly profit from its use.

Night Guard Types

Three types of night guards are available on the market today, varying in quality, price, and function.

  1. Over-the-Counter, Stock Night Guards. Both inexpensive and readily available in stores, this type of night guard come as one size fits all, which often causes them to be too bulky or loose and fail to provide ideal results. They are not recommended by dentists especially if you have an existing TMJ disorder.
  2. Boil and Bite Guards. Again, these over-the counter night guards available at drugstores are boiled to soften and contour according to your teeth. Although more bulky than a professional fit, patients find them more comfortable than the stock night guards.
  3. Custom Guards. Made according to the exact specifications of your mouth, custom guards 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

Whatever your condition, if you get a night guard your jaw and teeth will thank you. Every Platinum Dental office offers custom night guards, making the process of getting yours as easy as walking into one of our 11 offices throughout Utah.

Instructions for Care

Night Guards, like any other dental appliance, need to be cleaned regularly. Rinse your night guard thoroughly or brush it gently before placing it in your mouth. Clean after removal. This habit will reduce the number of germs introduced into the mouth. Patients often clean them with soapy water and even in the dishwasher from time to time (at a lower wash temp to prevent melting). If you wish to store your mouth guard in any type of caring case, be sure that there are air holes in your case to prevent bacteria growth. For best results, check often for damage and replace every 2-3 years.

Additional Facts