What is an Occlusal Guard?
Do you wake up with jaw pain, sore teeth, and headaches? It may be because you suffer from night time clenching and grinding, also known as bruxism. Many people clench and grind their teeth at night and don’t realize it because the symptoms may be mild or associated with another condition. Generally, with regular dental visits, your dentist should be able to notice signs of bruxism and treat it before it can cause any major damage. One of the ways we treat bruxism at Dr. Kevin Burgdorf, DDS is with an occlusal guard.
Symptoms of Bruxism
- Fractured teeth – Biting down and grinding puts a lot of pressure on the teeth and when not treated quickly, can lead to your teeth cracking, chipping, or breaking. In many cases, these are just cosmetic issues, but prolonged grinding can wear down the tooth past the enamel and make them more prone to infection and decay.
- Jaw pain – The constant pressure on your jaw during the night will eventually cause the muscles and joints to become sore. Eventually, bruxism can lead to jaw misalignment and temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJD. TMJD causes the jaw to pop and grind which can cause severe headaches and migraines.
An occlusal guard, or night guard, fits over your teeth in order to protect them from the damages common with nightly clenching and grinding. They are similar to mouth guards worn during sports but are made of a thinner, smoother plastic. Occlusal guards are customized to each patient in order to fit them securely and comfortably to allow for a better night’s sleep, while also offering the most protection from fractures and chipping. Most patients will also experience less jaw pain and headaches with the use of an occlusal guard.
When left untreated, bruxism can cause a lot of issues for your oral health and quality of life, so it is important to see a dentist as soon as possible if you are experiencing any symptoms. If you live in the Maryland Heights, MO area and would like to know more about treating bruxism, please contact our office at your earliest convenience.