Dental guards are recommended treatment for patients with nocturnal or daytime teeth grinding (bruxism) habits. In addition to limiting teeth wear, night guards (NG) help to support the muscles used to chew and the jaw joint called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). In some cases, patients with severe habits and or symptoms will need to be referred to a TMD (Temporomandibular Dysfunction) specialist, or a sleep clinic for further diagnosis and treatment.
There are two main types of night guards: soft, which is flexible and preferred by mild bruxism patients, and hard, which is not flexible and made for patients with mild to severe bruxism and misaligned teeth. Options are discussed prior to fabrication of the night guard. Both types will last from 1-5 years on average before need for replacement.
If you decide to try a dental night guard, consider the following points for best results:
- Custom-fit: fabricated from molds taken of your teeth, delivered on a separate appointment and adjusted for optimum fit and function.
- Over-the-counter: purchased at a store or pharmacy, generally adequate to relieve grinding, not intended to relieve muscles or joint pain, fit is fair to poor, and inexpensive.
- Sleep Apnea: diagnosis of SA will preclude and limit the use of a guard. A sleep appliance should be worn during night hours in lieu of a night guard.