Occlusal Guard (bite guard)
An Occlusal Guard (“nightguard” or "bite splint”) is an appliance made of acrylic that fits either the upper or lower arch of teeth. The purpose is to keep the teeth from biting into one another. This is important if the patient has a clenching or grinding habit that is wearing down the teeth. It is also used to reduce the amount of activity in the chewing muscles. If these muscles are allowed to “rest” then symptoms such as jaw joint pain, muscle pain, and headaches may be reduced or eliminated. In this more relaxed position, the bite can be analyzed to determine how the teeth should come together.
By wearing an occlusal guard as recommended you may experience one or more of the following benefits:
Less Tension and Less Pain
Nightguards are comfortable, practical, and lightweight. Dr. Johnson will design your night guard specifically for your teeth in a way that relieves the additional pressure placed on your jaw joints and muscles. This effectively reduces wear and tear and ensures that your teeth are protected all night long.
Headaches are just one of the many discomforts that come with TMD/TMJ (temporomandibular disorders). Nightguards have been proven to make a tremendous difference when it comes to these everyday aches and pains. Most patients are surprised that after using their night guard consistently, they experience fewer or no temporal headaches or associated neck pain.
Prevent Tooth Damage
This is one of the more imperative benefits of wearing a nightguard. Your unconscious grinding and clenching of the teeth and jaw can lead to chipped teeth, damaged fillings, and excessive wear of the teeth and of the enamel. By wearing a night guard, you will safeguard your comfort and the quality of your smile.
Improved Sleep Patterns
Nightguards provide maximum comfort while minimizing your symptoms, which ends up drastically improving your sleep patterns. The night guard positions your jaw in such a way that facilitates muscle relaxation, and while keeping these muscles relaxed, you can avoid the stress-filled sleep that often accompanies TMD.
Avoid Pricey Dental Procedures
The tooth damage caused by the nightly clenching and grinding of your teeth and jaw tends to be quite costly. Perhaps the greatest downside of teeth clenching is that it slowly but surely destroys your teeth over the years. When this happens, the restorative dental treatments required for both aesthetic and functional purposes are an expensive investment.
A Quieter Night’s Sleep
It’s very likely the least of your clenching and grinding troubles. Snoring may pose an issue for both you and/or your significant other. Your nightguard will be designed to create a small space between the jaws that can increase your oxygen intake by slightly opening your airway and allowing you to breathe better.