Sleep is a time to fully relax and let the body recover and heal from the previous day, but if you have a problem with grinding and clenching your teeth, sleep might actually cause additional harm. In fact, many people suffer from nighttime grinding and clenching without realizing it. Common symptoms include waking up with a headache or toothache, feeling fatigued throughout the day, and experiencing regular jaw joint pain. A dental examination at Advanced Dental Arts might also reveal that your teeth are becoming ground to a flattened surface. These are all signs of nighttime teeth grinding and clenching, and fortunately there is a simple solution called an occlusal guard.
An occlusal guard is horseshoe-shaped piece of plastic customized to your mouth and teeth to provide a soft barrier that prevents additional damage from occurring as you grind and clench your teeth in your sleep. This type of guard protects against jaw joint problems, worn teeth surfaces, headaches, and overall discomfort. Although an occlusal guard cannot directly solve the problem that causes grinding and clenching, it can encourage the jaws to relax overnight, which decreases the amount of grinding and clenching that takes place. After wearing your occlusal guard for a few weeks, you will most likely wonder how you ever survived without it!
Most occlusal guards are created from a hard or soft acrylic or composite. Dr. Kulangara at Advanced Dental Arts will evaluate your teeth to determine which type of occlusal guard will best serve your needs. She may determine that you need an upper guard, called a maxillary guard, or a lower guard, called a mandibular guard. An impression will be made of your teeth and used to fabricate an occlusal guard that will protect your teeth each night. It’s important to clean your guard each morning and store it in a dry place. Depending on your level of grinding, your guard may last you many years before it needs to be replaced. Overall, wearing an occlusal guard at night will minimize the damage done to your teeth and jaw, give you a much greater sense of comfort, and deliver a better quality of sleep through the night.