Longmeadow Family Dental Care Longmeadow Family Dental Care

Occlusal Guards Help Chronic Teeth Grinding

Do you grind your teeth at night? Let the dentists at Longmeadow Family Dental fit you for a guard to protect your teeth while you sleep. Usually worn at night, occlusal guards prevent people from grinding or clenching their teeth during slumber. A person who grinds at night may awake with discomfort in the muscles of the jaw and face. Left untreated, grinding can cause a variety of problems including cracked or broken teeth, gum recession, tooth sensitivity, headaches, and Temporal-Mandibular Joint (TMJ) pain.

What Is An Occlusal Guard?

An occlusal guard is a horseshoe shaped piece of plastic made from clear acrylic. It may be either soft or hard acrylic depending on your specific needs. The guard fits over your mouth on the upper or lower teeth, creating a physical barrier between both sets of teeth. The barrier allows you to bite against the plastic instead of wearing your teeth away. By wearing an occlusal guard to bed, you can prevent permanent damage to your teeth.

How Long Will An Occlusal Guard Last?

The longevity of your guard depends on the severity of your teeth grinding. The most severe cases require yearly guard replacements, while guards for mild cases can last for many years. If the guard still fits your teeth, it will not need replacing until you have worn through the acrylic.

Maintenance and Care of Your Occlusal Guard

To keep your guard in pristine condition, refrain from eating or drinking anything besides water to prevent discoloration. Additionally, brush your occlusal guard with a toothbrush and rinse with cold water upon removing it in the morning.  Avoid using toothpaste to clean your guard as the abrasive formula can scratch the surface. Finally, never rinse your guard with hot water because the high temperature can distort the shape.

If you suffer from teeth grinding or experience jaw discomfort at night, be sure to speak with your dentist about occlusal guards. Schedule an appointment for a fitting and examination with your Longmeadow dentist today.