Night Guards in Calgary
Do you grind your teeth or clench your jaw at night? Do you wake up with jaw pain, headaches, or tooth pain? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might want to talk with your dentist about night guards. Night guards, also known as occlusal guards, occlusal splints, bite splints, or a bruxism appliance, are a soft plastic device that slips over your teeth and provides a cushion. They can help with a variety of different conditions and can be custom made or purchased over-the-counter.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is a medical condition that causes a person to grind or clench their teeth. While this can occur during the day, most cases of bruxism occur at night and is considered a sleep-related movement disorder. This condition often occurs with other sleeping disorders, such as sleep apnea or snoring. Mild bruxism is usually not an issue, but severe cases can lead to headaches, jaw disorders, and damage to the teeth.
Many people do not know that they have this condition but may recognize some symptoms as well as have some signs that a dentist can see. Symptoms include headaches, jaw, neck or facial pain, and tooth pain. You may also experience damage to the inside of the check from biting or chewing. Your dentist may see signs of flattened, damaged, or chipped teeth, as well as worn down enamel.
How Do Night Guards Help?
Night guards are a thin plastic appliance that slips over the surface of your teeth. They are not designed to stop the grinding or clenching of the jaw, but rather provide a cushion to minimize the force. A human jaw can exert up to 1,300 Newtons of force and on unprotected teeth, that can cause serious damage. A night guard absorbs and disperses that force and protects the surface of your teeth. This cushion barrier also reduces the pressure associated with clenching and can help relieve pressure and tension in the jaw.
Which Night Guard is Right for Me?
Not every night guard is made the same. The cheapest option are stock night guards that are found in a drug store or pharmacy. These are a one-size-fits-all model and, in some cases, can actually cause more problems because they do not fit properly.
Custom night guards are made by taking a mold of your upper teeth and using that to create a perfect guard that fits your teeth. These guards fit snug so there is no worry about shifting or moving. Custom night guards are typically thinner than stock guards and much more comfortable, while still providing the necessary cushion.
What to Expect When Wearing a Night Guard
When you are first fitted with a night guard, it may be a good idea to spend an hour or two the first day wearing it while you are awake. This will help you get used to the feel of the guard being in place. Getting used to the guard in your mouth can feel normal right away or may take months to get used to. Having a custom-made night guard can usually minimize this process as the guard is made to fit your teeth. The greatest problem with adjustments typically comes from stock night guards.
Other Benefits of the Night Guard
In addition to minimizing the damage bruxism causes to your teeth, a night guard can provide many additional benefits. The grinding and clenching you do at night can cause headaches and sleep disruption. With a night guard in place, this tension is reduced. You may find yourself getting a much better night of sleep. Your morning headaches will be a thing of the past.
Are Custom Night Guards Worth the Cost?
While the cost of a custom night guard may seem a lot more than the stock variety, you need to consider the costs that a custom night guard will prevent. Bruxism is the leading cause of dental damage and root canals. A root canal is an expensive dental procedure and one that night guards help prevent. As you grind your teeth, you wear down the enamel, increasing the risk of dental decay and injury to the tooth, resulting in more costly dental procedures. Unlike stock mouth guards, a custom guard assures that your jaw is properly aligned. A stock guard does not do this and disrupting jaw alignment can cause even more issues.
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