A night guard is a type of dental device that you wear over your teeth while sleeping at night to prevent and reduce injury to dental structures like teeth and gums. Also known as bite splints, dental guards, mouth guards, and nocturnal bite plates they’re made of plastic and resemble retainers.
So should you wear one of these? If you have no dental issues, probably not. However, there are many cases where you might need a night guard, covered below.
Why Do People Wear Night Guards?
People wear night guards to help reduce or prevent the effects of various oral health issues.
One of the most common is bruxism, or teeth grinding. The night guard provides a barrier to prevent the wearer from unconsciously grinding their teeth down all night.
Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)
The Temporomandibular joint connects your jawbone to your skull. People with a TMJ disorder can experience dysfunction in this joint, leading to pain and discomfort.
Night guards can help bring everything into alignment, providing relief for people with these disorders.
Sleep apnea is a disorder where something causes breathing to start and stop repeatedly. In some cases of sleep apnea can be fixed with particular types of night guards. These night guards gently push the jaw into the right position, keeping airways open so the individual can sleep safely.
Benefits of Night Guards
Reduce Chances of Oral Problems
Teeth grinding wears down your teeth and can eventually cause gums to recede, leading to a number of potential problems. Night guards protect your teeth and gums by providing a barrier between your teeth. You might still grind at night, but the guard prevents both sets of teeth from making contact.
Alleviate Headaches and/or Facial Pain
Jaw clenching doesn’t just grind away teeth — it leads to tight, sore jaw muscles. A well-designed night guard shifts your jaw and teeth into the correct alignment. This will help the chewing muscles stop working so hard overnight, leaving them more relaxed the next morning.
It’s the same story for those with sleep apnea. Reducing those intermittent wakeups will lead to unbroken, restful sleep.
Less tooth grinding and head/face pain, combined with more muscle relaxation leads to better sleep. Sleep is one of our most important bodily functions to stay physically and mentally healthy, and night guards often provide relief to patients who may feel fatigued from subpar sleep.
Do you have any unexplained tooth pain, receding gums, or do you feel fatigued? That may be a sign you need a nightguard — but only a dentist can say for sure. Schedule an appointment with Absolute Smile today and we’ll take a look. All new patients get a free consultation!