Night Guards

Before we talk about night guards, let’s take a look at why these “teeth protectors” are so important to your oral health. A large number of our patients grind their teeth during sleep, especially when under stress. Over time, this habitual grinding slowly wears the enamel away from the teeth. Enamel is the hardest substance in the body and it also serves as a protective barrier for the tooth. As the enamel is reduced, the dentin eventually becomes exposed, and this can lead to sensitivity and potentially higher risk for tooth decay. Another sign of more extreme grinding is an abfraction lesion, which forms at the base of the crown near the gum line. The force and flexure caused by the grinding causes enamel rods to fracture, leading to a v-shaped abfraction defect. Heavy tooth grinding also causes increased head and jaw muscular contraction, which can contribute to the formation of migraines.

A night guard or splint is an acrylic appliance that, when worn, intimately covers an entire arch of teeth. The night guard is made by taking impressions of the upper and lower teeth, and then the lab fabricates the appliance so that it is custom fit to each patient’s mouth. With about 2-3 mm thickness of acrylic, the night guard prevents patients from grinding their teeth together while sleeping. The splint may also help relax the jaw and head muscles during sleep, thereby preventing the onset of migraines. Night guards are a very easy way to prevent a great deal of tooth damage and discomfort!

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