Occlusal guards, also known as night guards, fit over the patient’s top teeth and serve to protect the teeth from the ill effects of grinding and clenching during the night, when the greatest damage takes place.
Occlusal guards are most popular for night use, but they can also be used during the day. However, occlusal guards can make conversation somewhat hindered, so nighttime is the most common choice.
Many of us grind and clench our teeth at night. The occlusal guards do not hinder the user’s ability to enjoy a good night’s sleep. In some cases, they actually improve the sleep experience.
“Boil and bite” mouth guards can be purchased over the counter at most pharmacies. With these guards, the patient must follow the instructions but the general protocol is for the user to place the guard in the mouth and create an imprint by biting down on the guard. This is an inexpensive remedy but is not a perfect solution. Over-the-counter guards will not last and can often be very bulky.
What most patients want is a custom occlusal guard.
The best solution for nighttime or daytime grinding is to have a dentist custom design and custom fit a occlusal mouth guard. With these custom guards, the dentist makes an impression of the upper and lower teeth.
The dentist sends the impression to a lab where the custom guard can be fabricated. When the dentist receives the guard back from the lab, he or she will contact the patient to ensure the fit is good. Some adjustments are usually made at this time.
The custom fit provides protection against grinding and can provide a good deal of comfort for the jawbones. Custom made occlusal guards are less bulky and more comfortable than store-bought guards. They are also much more durable.
A properly designed and used guard will gradually reduce the grinding and clenching, which can cause the structure of the mouth to change.
Insurance providers have differing positions on occlusal guards, but from our standpoint, good occlusal guards save time ad money in the long run. This is a cost-effect preventative treatment for what could become a real oral nightmare.
Occlusal Guards Offer Protection From Tooth Grinding
Many studies have suggested that over 90% of adults clench or grind their teeth. During your exam, this is one of the many concerns that we look for. Wear patterns on the teeth, fractures of the cusps and cracked teeth are some indications that an occlusal guard could benefit you.
We would rather replace an occlusal guard every few years than repair broken and worn teeth. It is much more beneficial and less expensive for the patient to wear a guard and be proactive in their treatment. We highly recommend these protective occlusal guards when indicated.