Grinding your teeth at night is known as bruxism, and is a common condition. Another common condition is the clenching of your teeth while you sleep. You may wake up not feeling rested or have a headache or jaw ache. Your teeth may also become loose over time or shift out of place. Long term grinding and clenching of your teeth can lead damage to the protective enamel of your teeth, damage crowns and dental work, and cause jaw and tooth pain. Treatment for grinding and clenching of your teeth is an easy process. Your dentist may prescribe occlusal guards for you to wear at night to help stop the grinding and clenching cycle.
Occlusal guards may also be used to help prevent snoring. The soft tissues in your throat may relax too much and cause loud snoring and even cut off your breathing. An occlusal guard may give you and your partner relief from loud snoring and mild sleep apnea.
What are Occlusal Guards?
Occlusal guards, also called night guards, are custom fitted plastic trays which you wear at night. These guards keep you from grinding and clenching your teeth as you sleep. If you have severe grinding problems, your doctor may advise you to wear the guards during the day and at night. The occlusal guards not only help you from grinding and clenching your teeth, but they protect your teeth and dental work from further damage.
First your dentist will take an impression of your teeth. This impression is then sent off to a lab so that your guard may be fabricated. Once it is ready you will return to the office to have it fitted and adjusted. Custom fitted guards are less bulky and more effective than over the counter ones. Since they are custom fitted to your mouth, they provide protection to your teeth and relief from clenching and grinding your teeth at night.
Caring for Your Occlusal Guards
Since the trays are removable they are easy to use and easy to clean. Each morning remove your guard and rinse it with cold water. You may clean the outside of your guard with a soft toothbrush and clear water, but do not brush the inside of your guard. This protects the grooves and impressions which fit your teeth. Be sure to place it in the case provided when you’re not wearing it to protect it from loss, pets, and curious children. Your doctor will schedule regular appointments to check the fit and make any adjustments necessary.
If you wake up with a headache, jaw pain, or teeth pain you may grind or clench your teeth at night. Call or contact our office today and ask about occlusal guards. Occlusal guards protect your teeth, and can help you feel rested and refreshed in the morning.