Protect your teeth with dental night guards

night-guardOne of our most vulnerable moments is when we sleep at night, that downtime when the world is covered in silence and darkness, when our thoughts also go in slumber and all worries fade away. So what will you do if you find out that while sleeping soundly, you can actually cause your teeth to crack and break, yellow and recede your gums, and even damage your jaws?

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding, a common repetitive motion when strong vertical forces push the teeth against each other and later lead to serious teeth, gum and jaw injury.

While at sleep, we unconsciously stop breathing. Thanks to our built-in, 24×7 internal survival system, the brain automatically stimulates the teeth grinding response which in turn commands the body to push the jaw forward. This instinctive action reopen the airway and allow us to normally breathe again.

Effects of Bruxism

Frequent and long-term grinding will ultimately wear down the tooth enamel, causing tooth sensitivity and pain. Over time, untreated bruxism my lead to pain in the jaw muscles and joint (also known as TMJ), headaches, gum recession, tooth fracture, tooth loss and other severe oral and health problems.

In extreme cases, thousands of dollars will have to be spent for expensive dental work (crowns, bridges, root canal, implants) and other complex corrective surgeries. What dental remedy is available to prevent all these?

Dental Night Guards

Dental night guard (sometimes referred as nocturnal bite plate, occlusal guard or bite splint) is a special mouth guard designed to cover the upper and lower teeth to protect them from the damages of repetitive and prolonged grinding.

A licensed orthodontist will be able to assess if a dental night guard can best serve you. It is important to remember that an effective night guard must be comfortable to wear, durable enough to resist tears, easy to clean and should not impede your normal breathing and speech patterns.

How to Clean Your Night Guard

Dental night guards must be rinsed with cool, soapy water or with a mouth antiseptic solution before and after each use. It should be stored in a clean, firm and perforated container to allow circulation and prevent damage. If made from acrylic, dental night guards should be placed in clean, fresh water. To prevent or minimize distortion, do not place on near hot surfaces or across direct sunlight.

Types of Dental Night Guards

  • Stock mouth protectors are inexpensive, ready-to-wear night guards. Because they are pre-formed, there is no way to adjust their fit which makes them very uncomfortable to wear. They are often bulky and make breathing and talking difficult. These over-the-counter devices provide little or no protection and are rarely recommended by dentists.
  • Available in pharmacies, boil and bite mouth protectors are made of thermoplastic plastic that offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. Boil and bite night guards are placed in hot water to soften, then placed in the mouth and shaped around the teeth using finger and tongue pressure. Although of better quality than the out-of-the box types, they still remain noticeably bulky and uncomfortable to wear while sleeping.
  • Custom-fitted dental night guards are individually designed mouth protectors most prescribed by dentists. These customized dental devices are created based on the actual teeth impressions of a patient and produced inside professional laboratories. Though more expensive than the other night guard varieties, custom-fitted dental night guards offer the most comfort and protection against tooth abrasions and muscle strains.