Occlusal guards (also known as nightguards, bite plates, occlusal splints, or simply mouthguards) are used primarily by people who grind their teeth at night. The behavior is known as bruxism, and there could be a variety of causes for why you might be grinding your teeth. Some of these include:
Diets that are high in sugar, caffeine, and alcohol
Once we have determined the cause of your bruxism, we recommend that you get a nightguard to prevent further damage. Nightguards are a simple and cost-effective way to prevent the damage caused by bruxism which, if left untreated, may lead to broken teeth, tooth loss, and premature wear.
Types of Nightguards
There are several styles of nightguards to choose from. They are all effective at preventing grinding, but some may be more comfortable and more expensive than others.
Pre-formed, over-the-counter nightguards: Usually made of a flexible plastic and fairly inexpensive
“Boil and bite” over-the-counter nightguards: Made from a hard plastic that becomes soft in boiling water, which allows the patient to mold it to his or her own teeth
Custom-made nightguard: Tailor made by a dentist using an impression of your teeth, which ensures a perfect fit
Obviously, a custom-made nightguard will provide the best comfort and protection for your mouth, since it is custom tailored just for you. Over-the-counter guards can also shift at night, and cause an obstruction hazard.
Whichever type of nightguard you decide to use, it’s a good idea to discuss it with our office. If you feel you may have the need for a nightguard, please let a member of our team know at your next appointment!