A night guard is worn on your upper or lower teeth. It is custom made for your mouth to prevent the cusps on your posterior teeth from grinding or clenching. This can reduce the negative effects on your teeth and TMJ of clenching or grinding at night.
Why would I need an occlusal guard (night guard)?
Clenching and grinding your teeth day or night
Generalized tooth sensitivity
Recession of your gums
Excessive enamel wear facets
Wear facets in parafunction
(beyond normal range of chewing motion)
Clicking and popping of the TMJ
Stressful life events or occupations
Muscle soreness in your face, temporal area, neck, and shoulders
Headaches, muscle or tooth soreness upon wakening
Fracturing enamel or chipping porcelain/restorations
Abfractions (non-carious loss of tooth structure at gum line)
Not sleeping well
What is clenching?
Clenching is pressing your teeth together tightly without shifting your jaw. You may find yourself doing this during tedious tasks, stressful times, or even driving in traffic. This parafunctional habit can cause the periodontal ligament to be inflamed which can lead to bone loss (periodontal disease) and recession. It will also cause the muscles you use to chew with (muscles of mastication) to be tender. The resulting increased pressure in the TMJ can also cause inflammation and put the TMJ at risk for injury.
Clenching can cause natural teeth to crack or fracture and cause dental restorations to prematurely crack or fracture.
What constitutes grinding my teeth?
This event, also called bruxism, occurs when you are holding your teeth together and sliding them side to side or forward and backward without food present in your mouth. This parafunctional habit can cause the periodontal ligament to be inflamed which can lead to bone loss (periodontal disease) and recession. It will also cause the muscles you use to chew with (muscles of mastication) to be tender. The resulting increased pressure in the TMJ can also cause inflammation and put the TMJ at risk for injury.
Bruxism, not only causes excessive, uneven wear that ages your smile, but it can also cause natural teeth to crack or fracture and cause dental restorations to prematurely crack or fracture. Non-carious tooth structure loss at the gum line can occur due to the lateral forces put on the tooth. In addition, occlusal trauma to your tooth can occur because of the added force on the tooth and cause it to become mobile.
When do people clench and grind their teeth?
Day and/or Night. Daytime events are usually caused by tension or stress factors but also occur at rest. When it occurs at night, you do not get into a deep sleep and your muscles of mastication are working most of the night. You would not feel well rested in the morning even though you feel you have slept all through the night. As a result, these muscles become fatigued, sore, and even spasm. Because it is a subconscious event, many people do not realize they have this habit until the effects on their teeth are shown to them or a spouse or parent hears the teeth grinding noises at night.
Can’t I just buy one over the counter?
These “one size fits all” over the counter soft guards do not treat this condition properly because they are not custom made to your jaw relation and architecture of your TMJ movements. Even though they can be “molded” to your teeth, it is not an accurate fit and not comparable to impressions that are taken by dental professionals at a dental office. Therefore, they do not perform the same. In most cases, over the counter guards will not accomplish relief from your symptoms and can cause them to worsen. Occlusal guards fitted at a dental office are made from impressions taken in your mouth and fabricated by professional dental lab technicians.
Protecting your teeth with a professionally custom made night guard is cost effective because the investment is a fraction of the tooth replacement restorations such as crowns, bridges & implants that are used to treat cracked teeth or tooth loss which can result from clenching and grinding your teeth. In certain cases, short term medications are given to reduce the inflammation and spasms in conjunction with occlusal guard appliances. Dr. Starling has been treating patients who require a night guard successfully since 1994. Call our office at 352-473-9090 to schedule a TMJ evaluation if you think you may be experiencing any of the above mentioned events.