A Comprehensive Guide to Night Guards

A Comprehensive Guide to Night Guards

Jun 04, 2021

A night guard, a night mouthguard, or occlusal splint, is a special type of mouthguard that protects your teeth while you sleep. Nightguards create a soft, firm barrier between your upper and lower teeth, preventing teeth grinding and clenching, also known as bruxism. Unaddressed bruxism can result in temporomandibular jaw disorders, TMDs, tooth loss, and other long-term dental health issues. Individuals who clench their teeth also likely to suffer from other sleep-related problems, including snoring and sleep apnea.

If you typically wake up with a headache, feel tired even after a good night’s sleep, experience jaw pain and toothaches, you may be a good candidate for nightguards. To find out more, we recommend getting in touch with Edgartown Dental Group for a comprehensive evaluation and patient-tailored nightguard services.

Snoring, Bruxism and Sleep Apnea: What’s The Correlation?

Bruxism is a condition whereby an individual unconsciously clenches their teeth when awake or asleep. When it’s mild, bruxism isn’t considered an urgent concern. However, severe bruxism can result in frequent headaches, jaw pain, worn teeth, and other long-term complications.

Sleep bruxism often occurs together with snoring and even sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a severe and potentially dangerous sleep disorder where breathing repeatedly stops during sleep. Individuals with sleep apnea usually experience breathing interruption due to a collapse of the airways. When the airways collapse, air struggles to move through the narrowed airways, resulting in a vibrating sound or what is known as snoring.

Bruxism can exist without snoring and without sleep apnea. Snoring can also exist without the other two conditions. However, in many cases, individuals with sleep apnea are also likely to experience bruxism and snoring.

Types of Night Guards

Your dentist may recommend nightguards as a first-line treatment for sleep bruxism and TMJ pain. Nightguards come in three categories: stock nightguards, boil-and-bite nightguards, and custom nightguards.

Stock nightguards are readily available at your local drugstore, sporting goods store, and retail stores. These nightguards come in limited sizes, usually small, medium, and large. Because of their limited sizes, stock nightguards don’t always fit comfortably. They can also be incredibly bulky, leading to increased discomfort.

Boil-and-bite nightguards are also readily available in numerous stores. Boil-and-bite nightguards come in one size. To customize its fit, you’re required to boil the nightguard and then mold it over your teeth for the desired fit. While boil-and-bite nightguards are an improvement on stock nightguards, they cannot hold a candle to the superior fit and comfort of custom nightguards.

Custom nightguards are made from your dental impressions. To fabricate a custom nightguard, the dentist evaluates your dental health and ongoing symptoms to determine if a nightguard is the best remedy for your situation. In some cases, patients may have to undergo a sleep study before getting their custom nightguards.

A sleep study assesses your breathing patterns, oxygen levels, heart rate, eye and leg movements, and your brain waves. It’s a crucial component of sleep apnea treatment. Sleep studies are conducted in collaboration with other professionals, e.g., sleep specialists.

Night Guards Procedures

Nightguards procedures are relatively straightforward and painless. Your dentist may recommend getting nightguards if they notice worrisome signs during your bi-annual dental exams. Some individuals visit the dentist for an evaluation if they experience symptoms consistent with bruxism, sleep apnea, or TMDs. These include headaches, jaw pain, facial pain, lockjaw, worn teeth, restlessness and fatigue.

To begin the nightguards procedures, the dentist evaluates your symptoms to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. For this process, the dentist utilizes visual observation, dental imaging, and other tried and tested techniques. In addition, as mentioned in the previous section, other tests such as sleep study tests may be undertaken. If you experience severe bruxism, you may be suffering from dental malocclusion or bite misalignment. The dentist may suggest orthodontic treatment to alleviate this.

As every patient is different and unique, so are the treatment procedures prescribed by the dentists at Edgartown Dental Group. However, you can be confident that great care is taken to ensure a memorable experience for each patient.

Schedule An Appointment

If you’re interested in comprehensive and personalized nightguard services, please contact Edgartown Dental Group today to schedule a consultation. Edgartown Dental Group is a trusted, multi-specialty dental office that offers custom-tailored dental care to patients of all ages.

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