A night guard, also known as an occlusal splint or dental splint, is a dental device typically made of plastic that is worn over the teeth during sleep. It is designed to protect the teeth and jaws from the harmful effects of teeth grinding or clenching, a condition known as bruxism.
Here’s why wearing a night guard can be beneficial:
- Teeth Grinding and Clenching Protection: Bruxism can cause excessive wear and damage to the teeth, including chipping, fractures, and flattened tooth surfaces. A night guard acts as a barrier between the upper and lower teeth, absorbing the forces of grinding or clenching and preventing direct tooth-to-tooth contact. It helps protect the teeth from further damage.
- Jaw and Muscle Pain Relief: Bruxism can lead to jaw pain, facial muscle soreness, and even headaches. A night guard helps in redistributing the forces exerted during grinding or clenching, reducing the strain on the jaw muscles and alleviating related discomfort.
- Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder Management: TMJ disorders are conditions that affect the jaw joint and surrounding muscles. Bruxism can contribute to the development or exacerbation of TMJ disorders. A night guard can help reduce the strain on the temporomandibular joint and provide relief from TMJ-related symptoms such as jaw clicking, popping, or pain.
- Protection for Dental Restorations: If you have dental restorations such as crowns, bridges, or veneers, grinding or clenching can put excessive stress on these restorations and compromise their longevity. Wearing a night guard can help protect and extend the lifespan of your dental restorations.
- Better Sleep Quality: Bruxism can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to poor quality sleep for both the person grinding their teeth and their sleep partner. By reducing grinding or clenching noises and promoting more relaxed jaw muscles, a night guard can contribute to better sleep for both individuals.
If you suspect that you grind or clench your teeth at night or if you have been experiencing symptoms such as tooth wear, jaw pain, or headaches, it is advisable to consult with a dentist. They can evaluate your condition, determine if a night guard is necessary, and provide a customized night guard that fits your mouth comfortably.