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What are Night Guards and Why Are They Important?

July 19, 2021

Tooth clenching and grinding are prevalent oral habits that are classified as nighttime sleep motion disorders. Clenching and grinding can occur subconsciously during the day but most commonly occurs at night. Clenching is the aggressive biting down of the upper and lower jaws together, and grinding is when the jaws move aggressively across each other, causing friction on the tooth surfaces. Nightguards act as a buffer or cushion between the upper and lower teeth to prevent tooth-on tooth trauma.  

Signs and Symptoms of Clenching/ Grinding 

– Worn down tooth surfaces, typically occurring on the biting surfaces of the teeth. Clenching appears as indentations on the teeth, and grinding appears as flattening of the teeth 

– Headaches and jaw aches 

– Sore muscles in the neck, cheeks and jaw 

– Pain and clicking while opening and closing the jaw 

– Tooth sensitivity 

– Gum recession 

What is a Night Guard? 

A night guard is the best treatment option to help prevent tooth, gum and jaw issues from clenching and grinding. Nightguards can be fabricated from a variety of different plastic materials that can range from soft and flexible to rigid and sturdy, depending on the severity of the clenching/grinding. Nightguards can also be made to wear on either the top or the bottom teeth. It is essential to discuss with your dentist what type of guard will work best for you. 

Important Night Guard Tips 

– Make sure to wear your night guard every night 

– It takes a couple of weeks to get used to wearing a nightguard. Give it time! 

– Clean your night guard after use with a separate toothbrush and warm water 

– Store your night guard in a clean case each day 

– Never use hot water to clean your night guard, as this may warp the material

– Bring your night guard in for your routine check-up and cleaning appointments to have the fit checked and to have it cleaned  

– If you notice any chips, cracks or breaks on your night guard, it might be time to have a new one made. Broken night guards don’t offer the same protection.

If you have any questions about night guards, how they are used or how they are made, or if you are a candidate for a nightguard, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment. 

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