Occlusal Guards & Teeth Grinding
What is an occlusal guard? An occlusal guard, often called a night guard, is used to prevent patients who grind their teeth. They are worn on the top teeth overnight.
If you are a teeth grinder, the grinding creates stress upon the teeth. Over time, you begin to wear down the teeth and the weakened teeth are at much greater risk for breakage. Many times stress plays a huge role in teeth grinding. The act of wearing an occlusal guard alleviates the clenching your body does when under stress (although not the root of your stress).
Other reasons beyond stress that may cause one to grind their teeth (source):
- Emotions, such as anxiety, anger, frustration, or tension
- Aggressive, competitive or hyperactive personality type
- Abnormal alignment of upper and lower teeth (malocclusion)
- Other sleep problems, such as sleep apnea
- Response to pain from an earache or teething (in children)
- Stomach acid reflux into the esophagus
- An uncommon side effect of some psychiatric medications, such as phenothiazines or certain antidepressants
- A coping strategy or focusing habit
- Complication resulting from a disorder such as Huntington’s disease or Parkinson’s disease
- Consumption of caffeinated beverages or alcohol, or taking illegal drugs such as methamphetamine or Ecstasy may increase the risk
Besides wearing down your dentition, patients who grind their teeth are also at risk for tension-type headaches, facial pain, and disorders that occur in the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), located just in front of your ears, which may sound like clicking when you open and close your mouth.
At Altman Dental, we will evaluate your situation to see what is the best method of treatment. Your dental alignment will be checked to make sure that your teeth are making contact with each other correctly. We may feel that an occlusal guard is the best treatment for you. An occlusal guard will prevent your upper and lower teeth from being able to make contact with each other, and looks much like a retainer. We create a mold of your upper teeth through an impression material. You will then wear the guard made every night and take it out in the morning.
To help alleviate stressors in your life we recommend:
- Seeing a therapist, counselor, physician to discuss important issues
- Take part in mindfulness, meditative classes
- Do yoga
- Avoid eating stimulants and eat a healthy, whole food diet free of refined ingredients. When eat well, our body feels better
- Have a relaxing pre-sleep routine. Darken the room, avoid watching TV and screen time before bed, go to bed at the same time each night, listen to relaxing music