What is a dental mouthguard for?
Mouthguards serve multiple purposes. They can be worn to protect teeth during sports, prevent damage from teeth grinding/ bruxism, treat TMJ pain, treat mild sleep apnea or to reduce snoring.
If your dentist notices abnormal damage to tooth surfaces, they may ask if you are aware that you are grinding or clenching your teeth. Many people are unaware that they grind as they do it subconsciously while sleeping.
Teeth grinding and clenching is termed bruxism, which is a sleep-related movement disorder that can cause a variety of problems. Over time, bruxism leads to tooth damage, toothaches, jaw pain, and sore gums.
Wearing a mouthguard while your sleep can help keep your top and bottom teeth separate and protected from damaging each other with the pressure of grinding or clenching.
A custom-fitted mouthguard is the first line of defense against damage from bruxism. Stock mouthguards (one size fits all) are sold over-the-counter in pharmacies, but they may be hard to keep in place and uncomfortable, which can make it difficult to sleep. If the mouthguard is uncomfortable, you will likely not wear it and will not be protected. They also become brittle and weak with frequent use. Getting a custom made nightguard insures a correct fit and durability.
In order to fabricate your occlusal guard, the dentist will examine your teeth and bite relationships, make impressions, select the material indicated for your mouthguard, make the mouthguard and then try it in for you. If you have further questions about mouthguards, feel free to ask your dentist at your next office visit.
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