Occlusal Guards

An occlusal guard is also referred to as a night guard or a bruxism guard. It prevents bruxism, which is the clenching or grinding of the teeth that occurs mainly at night. Grinding and clenching the jaw at night can cause tooth damage and temporomandibular joint dysfunctions since the jaw places an extraordinary amount of pressure per square inch on the teeth. 

At Shore Drive Dental, our dentist customizes occlusal guards to suit each patient's mouth precisely. Custom-fitted occlusal guards give patients superior protection without the discomfort of ill-fitting one-size-fits-all appliances. Occlusal guards can prevent issues like jaw strain, fatigue, pain, and tooth chipping or breaking.

Why Would I Need an Occlusal Guard?

Occlusal guards are often referred to as night guards, and they protect your teeth from the effects of clenching and grinding while sleeping. Many people clench or grind their teeth without realizing it, especially at night.

Grinding your teeth can wear down your tooth enamel over time, leading to worse problems such as the teeth cracking or breaking and even losing them altogether. If you clench or grind your teeth, you should talk to our dentist about getting a night guard to protect your teeth from damage.

If you suffer from sleep apnea, you may be prescribed an occlusal guard to prevent your airway from being blocked while you sleep. This can help keep oxygen flowing to your brain and improve your sleep quality, significantly improving your overall health.

What Are Occlusal Guards Used For?

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Occlusal guards are dental appliances patients wear to protect their teeth and reduce tooth wear and breakage. These mouthguards are typically worn at night but can also be worn during the day if the patient has bruxism or a TMJ disorder, which can cause significant tooth damage over time. When a patient wears an occlusal guard, it helps reduce the effects of teeth clenching and grinding.

Occlusal guards also help reduce jaw pain associated with TMJ disorders. Most patients who suffer from TMD report extreme pain in the joint that connects the jaw to the skull. The muscles in this area can become inflamed, causing a dull ache in the jaw, making it difficult for patients to eat and speak comfortably. An occlusal guard can help these patients to reduce the pressure placed on the temporomandibular joint by providing a protective cushion for the jaw joint to rest upon.

What Are the Different Types of Occlusal Guards?

There are three main kinds of occlusal guards, and each one offers a different level of protection. 

The first type of occlusal guard is called a stabilization splint. It is designed for patients who have been diagnosed with TMJ disorder but do not need surgery to correct the problem. Stabilization splints are made of plastic and are custom-made to fit the patient's mouth. This type is used to keep the upper and lower jaws in alignment to prevent grinding and clenching during the night.

The second type of occlusal guard is a hard acrylic one. This type of device is usually used for athletes who have a high risk of breaking their teeth during physical activities like contact sports. It can also be used for anyone who clenches their jaw either during the day or while they sleep. These ones are more rigid than soft ones and offer better protection from fractures of teeth.

The third kind is an injection-molded one. This is a custom appliance that is created from a mold of the patient's upper and lower arches so that the fit is perfect every time. They are less effective at protecting against tooth damage than the other types since they are not as thick as the others. They are also more costly than the first two because they are custom appliances.

How Long Do Occlusal Guards Last?

The lifespan of an occlusal guard varies based on the type of material it's made from, as well as the amount of wear and tear it receives. If the patient has a habit of grinding or clenching their teeth during sleep, the guard is more likely to become worn down over time. However, a night guard that is made from the hard acrylic resin can last for years with proper care and cleaning. The patient should brush and floss around their mouthguard daily to prevent bacteria buildup on the gum line and prevent gum disease. If they're unable to clean the guard properly between brushings, they should consider soaking it in a denture cleaner or a mouthwash that has antibacterial properties to help kill germs and clear away excess debris.

Occlusal guards are custom-made to fit each patient’s unique smile so that the device is comfortable and offers maximum protection. For the best dental treatment, visit Shore Drive Dental at 4417A Shore Dr, Virginia Beach, VA 23455, or call (757) 460-1939.

  • 4417A Shore Dr,
    Virginia Beach, VA 23455
  • lesrdds@hotmail.com
  • Tel: (757) 460-1939
    • MON - WED:  8:00 am - 5:00 pm
    • THU:  7:00 am - 12:00 pm
    • FRI - SUN:  Closed