Occlusal Guards are removable devices that fit over the teeth and are used to help prevent the wearing down of teeth during sleep due to night time grinding and clenching. If you wake up and do not feel rested, you have a headache or a toothache, or you have jaw joint pain, or if during a routine dental examination your dentist notices that your teeth have been ground down to a more flattened surface than should be normal, you may be prescribed an occlusal guard. If these symptoms are left unchecked and continue too long without being taken care of, more dental problems, such a fractured teeth and tooth loss, might occur.
The purpose of the occlusal guard is to prevent further tooth damage due to clenching and grinding of the teeth. It also helps to prevent more wear on the surface of the teeth. The guards help to relax the jaws, which in the process lessens teeth grinding and clenching, and therefore protects the jaw from joint problems that could eventually occur.
At Yavner Dental Associates we make custom occlusal guards in our office to help prevent further surface damage on the teeth, lessen gum problems, and release jaw tension.
The guards are made from a combination of hard and soft heat-cured acrylic which is the hardest and most durable guard available.
It will usually take two visits for the patient to receive the finished product. At the first visit, a mold is made of the patient's mouth; at the second visit, the dentist will check the fitting of the guard that was made and explain how to wear it and how to take care of it.
The majority of people that need to use the occlusal guard only need to wear the upper guard, also called a maxillary guard. A few people will be given the lower guard, or mandibular guard. Wearing an occlusal guard will prevent further surface damage on teeth, lessen gum problems, release jaw tension, and help keep teeth strong.
Sometimes it may take several weeks of wearing the occlusal guard before they feel totally comfortable to wear. After that, most users find they cannot sleep without them.
Custom made occlusal guards are made from either vinyl, resin made from heat-cured acrylic, soft acrylic, or light-cured composite. The guard made from the acrylic that is heat-cured is the hardest and most durable. When making guards for children, the softer materials are more desirable because of the child's quickly changing tooth and jaw sizes.
A mouth guard is a soft plastic device that is used in sports to prevent oral injuries to the teeth, mouth, cheeks, tongue, and jaw. The American Dental Association projects that one third of all dental injuries are sports related. These injuries include chipped or broken teeth, fractured crowns, lip and cheek bruises, root damage to the teeth, and fractured jaws. Any athlete may be at risk for oral injury and any injury can be prevented with the use of a mouth guard. The ADA recommends that people of all ages use a properly fitted mouth guard in any sporting or recreational activity that may pose a risk of injury.