A night guard is a device placed in the mouth on top of the teeth to help with grinding and clenching. Grinding implies the moving of the jaw back and forth, while clenching is biting down with pressure for an extended period of time. The guard acts as a protective layer between your top and bottom teeth.
These devices are also called occlusal guards, occlusal splints, or bite splints. Usually, the guard is made of plastic and is placed over some or all of the upper or lower teeth. In most cases, guards cover only your upper teeth. But sometimes, if you wear braces or have another dental appliance, a dentist can make a guard for your lower teeth, as well.
They re-establish your natural space and protect your teeth from grinding or clenching together, which can cause you to chip and crack your teeth and strain your jaw muscles. Nightguards don’t stop you from clenching or grinding, but they serve as a cushion so that your teeth wear down the guard rather than your teeth. They also give your jaw a rest while you sleep. Plus, they can help you and your sleep partner sleep better, too.
- Why do people wear night guards?
- Is wearing a nightguard the only option?
- How will a nightguard help you?
People wear night guards because they grind their teeth or clench their jaws at night. The act of grinding and clenching is known in the medical world as bruxism. Bruxism often occurs when you’re sleeping or under stress. This is a very common behavior, so don’t feel like you’re the only one with this problem.
On the other hand, you might not know if you grind your teeth. Many people don’t. Maybe the person you sleep with will inform you of your loud grinding because it wakes them up.
Your dentist is the only person who can confirm whether you have bruxism.
When you grind your teeth, your teeth lose their protective outer layer, the enamel. And when your enamel is gone, it cannot be replaced, which can lead to a lot of oral damage, like cavities.
When wearing a nightguard, you’ll be able to breathe easily and speak as normal. They should keep your teeth in place and should feel comfortable. While you technically could wear your night guard while eating and drinking, it’s best not to if you want to keep it clean. And it’s meant to be worn at night while you sleep.
Night Guards are one of the most common treatments for bruxism, but they aren’t the only option.
Here are some things you can do to prevent or lessen your teeth grinding or clenching:
- Limit your drinking of caffeine and alcohol.
- Stop smoking, especially right before sleeping.
- Use relaxation techniques before you go to bed, such as listening to gentle music,
meditating, or doing yoga.
Regularly wearing a nightguard can help you:
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Get rid of morning headaches.
- Stop your jaw aches.
- Stop yourself from damaging your teeth, dentures, restorations, crowns, and
jaw, and from causing dental problems.