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What is a night guard?

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What is a night guard?

Dental night-guards are one of the several treatment methods to address various types of dental disorders.

A night-guard is a protective mouthpiece custom fitted to your mouth that covers the teeth and gums to help deal with grinding or clenching. It acts as a tough protective barrier between the upper and lower teeth during sleep to immediately prevent contact and reduce further premature wear, damage and injury to the teeth, arches, lips and gums that usually occurs when the upper and lower jaws are jammed together causing teeth to break, get knocked out or suffer nerve damage.

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The second reason is to alleviate the symptoms of a condition called “bruxism”. Bruxism is commonly known as unintentional or unconsciously or involuntary grinding or clenching of the teeth during sleep, as from anger, tension, fear, frustration and it is considered a major dental problem and one that is becoming increasingly common. It is the instinctual response the body uses to reopen a collapsed airway by advancing the jaw forward. The force of grinding is generated by the chewing muscles and they can become very sore and tired from this effort.  Sometimes there is limited ability to open because the muscles are so tight making it difficult to eat.  Also, the muscle tenderness or spasm can lead to headaches, earaches and neck aches. Others may notice their teeth have become more sensitive overtime, or that their teeth look flat or worn. Other physical indications of chronic teeth grinding are chipped teeth; increased sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages; and loose or broken fillings. Most often, bruxism is related to stress. It may also be a response to pain elsewhere in the body, or the result of misaligned teeth. Stress reduction and anxiety management are methods used to treat bruxism and reduce the symptoms, but a dental night guard is the most commonly used treatment method. Dentist in Delhi are routinely treating bruxism cases using customized night guards. In dental clinics in Delhi, regular counselling for such patients is done to address stress and anxiety problems.

Also used to stop forceful jaw clenching and teeth grinding associated with temporomandibular joint, where the lower jaw meets the skull (TMJ disorders or increasing in severity).  Because of this constant buffeting of grinding and clenching, the TMJ can become very sore, can start popping or clicking and can even stop opening or more alarming, closing.  These symptoms can all be very difficult to cope with.  A night guard is often the best way of treating these problems, both to remedy them and hopefully to prevent them from.

While  it is a condition that occurs at any time during the day, most cases occur while sleeping. Many individuals grind or clench their teeth while asleep and are not even aware they are doing so. Because patients are unaware that they are grinding their teeth, they may feel there is no need for a night guard. While it may not seem like an attractive option, night guards can protect your teeth and prevent long-term, permanent damage done in your sleep as grinding or clenching your teeth causes pain issues (every morning with muscle pain around the cheeks and jaw), loss of tooth volume (can led to chipped or flat teeth, excessive wear of the teeth or damage to fillings), alignment issues and is hazardous to your long term dental health.

To correct the damage of grinding, you may need to undergo certain procedures, including bridges, crowns, dental implants or extractions.

Night guards is generally a horseshoe-shaped appliance but it can be of  variety of shapes, sizes and materials. An effective mouth guard should be soft, thin, non-bulky, comfortable, protective, resist tears, be durable and easy to clean, and should not restrict your breathing or speech. They are usually made out of bendy rubber or plastic. They fit snug between the upper and lower sets of teeth to keep them from touching. Some of them work by re-directing the force of the jaw pressure. Others work simply by discouraging the bite at all and you will find yourself finally freed from nagging jaw and facial pain.

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So, if you are grinding your teeth while you are asleep, you should be concerned with two things:

Protecting your teeth from the strong vertical forces of grinding, which can cause them to break, crack, become sensitive, cause you pain, and prematurely yellow and cause your gums to recede. For that you may need to wear a night-guard. The most obvious benefit of a night-guard is the protection it will provide for your irreplaceable tooth enamel.

Your teeth are composed of a layer of hard protective enamel covering a layer of dentin which protects the cluster of nerves and blood vessels at the heart of the tooth. Long-term untreated bruxism(teeth grinding) can erode your teeth through both the enamel and dentin by making your teeth flatten and expose the pulp of nerves and vessels. If allowed to continue, it not only does this compromise the integrity of your teeth, but can also lead to intense pain and can cause temperature sensitivities. In fact, if this level of erosion is reached, the tooth may have to be removed.

Wearing a simple dental night guard supports your jaw and even out the pressure across your jaw by providing a layer of cushioning between the upper and lower teeth and protecting the jaw muscles from this extreme tension. Also they prevent the destruction of your teeth by preventing them from grinding together and eroding your tooth enamel. They can also reduce any grinding noises you make at night.

Beyond preventing symptoms like helping to reduce muscle activity in your jaw at night when bruxism occurs, night guards may also help to reduce the frequency of your teeth grinding and clenching and  intensity of grinding sessions. Combined with relaxation techniques, wearing a custom-made night guard provides the best chance to not only reduce your symptoms but also to decrease the frequency and intensity of teeth grinding episodes.

Unlike the bulkier generic sports mouth guards which may damage tooth alignment, custom dental night guards may even improve tooth or jaw alignment.

  • That you are likely to have sleep apnea and should look into getting tested for this potentially life- threatening condition.

Most cases of teeth grinding (nearly 80%) occur subconsciously during sleep. It’s usually associated with contributing factors, such as stress or anxiety and the related symptoms are facial pain, insomnia, and tooth damage. Bruxism also affects people when they are awake (nearly 20%), although this is more likely to be clenching the teeth and jaw, rather than grinding their teeth during the day. Custom dental night guards are not only effective for sleep bruxism, if you are experiencing pain or tooth damage from your daytime bruxism, you may try a thin, discrete daytime teeth guard. Without affecting speech or comfort, a thin, flexible, discrete day-time guard still provides protection for your tooth enamel when you cannot help clenching or grinding.

The Benefits of Custom-Fitted Night Guards

If you suffer from nightly jaw clenching, tooth grinding, or TMJ symptoms, you know how uncomfortable the side effects can be.  Self-care practices at home such as eating softer foods, minimizing extreme jaw movements, treating pain with heat or ice packs, or controlling jaw tension with relaxation techniques can sometimes ease the discomfort.  Night guards, however, are often the best way to minimize painful symptoms and achieve superior relief.

Dentist in India are providing custom made night guards for patients with clenching problems. A proper supervision done by the dentists in dental clinics in India is the proper way to go about the treatment.

  • Prevent Tooth Damage – Night guards also offer a critically important benefit by helping you prevent costly tooth damage. The nightly habit of unconsciously grinding and clenching your jaw can lead to chipped teeth, damage to fillings, and even excessive wear of the teeth.  Night guards provide protection for your tooth enamel. Because the hard protective enamel covering of your teeth protects a layer of dentin and the cluster of nerves and blood vessels inside of your teeth, preventing enamel destruction is important. Long-term grinding can expose dentin and compromise the integrity of your teeth.
  • Provides Cushioning for Jaw Muscles – If you grind or clench in your sleep, you may wake up with pain around your cheeks and jaw. Custom night guards will provide cushioning to protect your teeth and support your jaw so that you can avoid this discomfort.
  • Alleviate Pain & Headaches – Unfortunately, there are a host of discomforts that accompany TMD (temporo-mandibular disorders).  Patients often complain of a sore or tender jaw, morning headaches, ear aches, neck pain, sensitive teeth, muscle fatigue, and spasms.  The great news, however, is that night guards can make a tremendous difference when it comes to these everyday aches and pains.  The night guard prevents the upper and lower teeth from coming in contact, thereby lessening the effects of nightly grinding and clenching.  In addition, the guard helps align the teeth in their most correct position which helps alleviate jaw pain in the process.
  • Improve Your Sleep Patterns Due to the maximum comfort and minimized symptoms that a night guard offers, it’s a great way to help improve your sleep patterns.  The night guard positions your jaw in an ideal fashion decreases the forces of grinding and clenching and allows your jaw to rest properly in order to help your muscles relax,  And by keeping those muscles as relaxed as possible, it can help you avoid the kind of stress-filled sleep that tends to accompany TMJ or TMD.
  • Better Fit – Night guards purchased over-the-counter do not offer the same fit and comfort like a custom-fitted night guard will. Custom-fitted models are made from a bite mold taken of your teeth and the thickness is designed specifically so you can wear it comfortably while you sleep.

To care for your mouth guard:

If properly cared for, a good teeth night guard can last up to five years.

Dentist in Delhi do a systematic follow up of the patients every six months to check the improvement in their habit pattern.

  • Rinse your mouth guard with cold water or with a mouth rinse before and after each use or clean it with a mild soap and a toothbrush.
  • After each use, clean the night guard in cool, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly.
  • When not in use, place the mouth guard in a firm, perforated container to store or transport it. This permits air circulation and helps to prevent damage.
  • Protect the mouth guard from high temperatures — such as hot water, hot surfaces, or direct sunlight — to minimize distorting its shape. It needs to be stored in a cool place away from heat and sunlight.
  • Occasionally check the night guard for general wear. If you find holes or tears in it or if it becomes loose or causes discomfort, replace it.
  • Bring the mouth guard to each regularly scheduled dental visit to have your dentist exam it.

Dentist in Delhi

A night guard can be a simple, and affordable solution for protecting your teeth and jaws from the damaging effects of bruxism. Understand that the night guard will not cause you to clench the teeth any less, but it will protect the teeth it covers.

One key thing to remember is that over-the-counter night guards can do more harm than good, exacerbating the problem because the fit is not right. That’s why a custom night guard is ideal. It will not only safeguard your comfort, but the quality of your smile, too.

Because of the complexity of the body, many of the symptoms of grinding can affect more than teeth.  This can include the muscles, jaw joint, neck and upper back. Dealing with the type of complexity requires a thorough examination to determine the cause of these symptoms.  Sometimes we refer patients for physical therapy as an additional way of treating the symptoms of grinding.

Posted By – Dr. Shriya

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