What is a night guard?
"Night Guard" can refer to several different dental devices worn at night while we sleep. At it's most basic, a night guard is a piece of acrylic or similar material molded over the upper or lower teeth (not both) that help protect against tooth wear resulting from clenching or grinding. They can be made of a soft or rigid material.
For people with healthy, pain-free TMJ's, who show signs of tooth wear with or without chipped enamel, fillings, or crowns, a simple "night guard" will probably offer adequate protection against tooth wear.
Other people might have sore jaw muscles, teeth, or even headaches that are caused by clenching and/or grinding. These patients can benefit greatly from a different type of "night guard" that functions more as a splint. This "occlusal splint" may require more appointments to allow it to be fine-tuned to the person's specific biting characteristics, and allow it to relax the muscles and position the TMJ in a more stable, comfortable position. These splints have been shown over and over to be effective at relieving people's muscle pain and headaches that result from over-stimulation of the chewing muscles.
If you feel like your teeth appear short or chipped/worn, or if your jaw muscles get tired quickly when chewing gum or bread or meat, a night guard or occlusal splint could provide a simple, non-invasive solution. Give Dr. Cook a call to set up an appointment!