An occlusal guard is also known as a mouthguard. A mouthguard is a custom-fit protective thermoplastic shield for your teeth. They are used to protect your teeth from any excess force due to teeth grinding or clenching and TMJ. The mouthguard acts as a cushion for your teeth and absorbs the force of pressure that is applied from teeth clenching or grinding.
If you’re interested in an occlusal guard to protect your teeth and jaw, contact us at Whitestone Family Dentistry today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chris Mun. We can perform an oral exam to ensure you don’t have any oral health issues and will take impressions of your teeth if you’re a good candidate.
Mouthguards can also be worn during contact sports to reduce the risk of injury to the mouth. Sports injuries can commonly cause broken or chipped teeth, cutting the inside of the mouth, or a broken jaw. Wearing a mouthguard greatly reduces your risk of injury when playing contact sports.
Teeth grinding is also known as bruxism and is the habitual act of clenching or grinding your teeth during the day or while you sleep. Most people who grind their teeth do so at night which makes them unaware of this behavior.
Continual or severe teeth grinding can cause damage to your teeth, such as chipping, cracking, or loosening of the teeth. It can also be a cause of or exacerbate temporomandibular joint disorders, causing pain and lack of mobility in the jaw.
There isn’t a cure for bruxism and it is often done when the person is unconscious, so the best solution is to wear a mouthguard at night to protect your teeth and jaw by absorbing most of the force. Common complications of bruxism include damage to the teeth, pain in the teeth or jaw, and headaches.
TMJ or TMD is a term used to refer to temporomandibular joint disorders that affect the jaw itself or the joints and muscles in the jaw. There isn’t a known specific cause of teeth grinding, but injuries to the jaw or mouth and arthritis are big predictors of developing TMJ.
Patients with TMJ typically experience pain and tenderness in the jaw, headaches, an inability to open their mouth all the way, lock-jaw, and a clicking noise when extending or closing the jaw. By wearing a mouthguard, you can reduce the strain and stress being put on your jaw muscles as well as the tightness in your jaw and face.
If teeth grinding is exacerbating your TMJ, the mouthguard can reduce aches in the face, ears, and head. Mouthguards and other oral appliances can also help to reposition the jaw in cases where the jaw is misaligned.
Avoid using hot water on your mouthguard and keep it out of direct sunlight, as this can alter its shape and affect its ability to properly cushion your teeth. It’s important to keep your mouthguard clean because teeth trays and mouthguards can harbor bacteria if food particles become trapped inside of them.
You should rinse out your mouthguard every time you take it out and clean it with a soft-bristle toothbrush and toothpaste. Keep your mouthguard in its proper storage case so it doesn’t become lost or damaged.
From time to time, you should sanitize your mouthguard by soaking it in hydrogen peroxide or denture cleaning solution. Always ensure that you have dried the mouthguard before storing it in its case.
Clean your teeth before putting your mouthguard back on. Finally, pay careful attention to how your mouthguard fits. If any changes occur in your bite or if the mouthguard becomes damaged and worn out, which it will over time, return to the dentist to have it replaced.