While many dental treatments fix problems in one or two appointments, dentists also treat oral problems over the long term. For example, they sometimes recommend that patients wear night guards.
Dentists create a customised plastic mouthguard to exactly fit the patient's mouth. Patients typically wear them every night while they sleep. While some patients need a night guard because of a dental problem, dentists can also create them for patients with other medical conditions.
When might your dentist recommend that you wear this kind of device?
1. You Have Night Bruxism
If you have night bruxism, then you grind your teeth while you sleep. You might not know that you do this; however, the pressure of nightly grinding will soon become obvious to your dentist.
People with bruxism often suffer from tooth damage. Constant grinding wears down your teeth. It can affect their enamel and lead to problems with decay and gum disease.
If you have bruxism, then your dentist can fit a night guard to reduce the damage. You'll still grind your teeth in your sleep; however, you'll do less harm. The guard prevents tooth surfaces from coming into direct contact. It protects your teeth and gums.
2. You Have a Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder
If you have a TMJ disorder, then a night guard can help manage your symptoms. These disorders come from a joint in your jaw.
If the joint has a problem, then you could wake up every morning with jaw, ear or facial pain. You might get regular headaches. Your jaw might click painfully, and you could find it hard to eat.
Some patients with bruxism develop TMJ pain. Their constant grinding causes the jaw to clench unnaturally. However, this condition also affects people with other medical problems, such as arthritis or previous jaw injuries.
A night guard can help manage TMJ symptoms. It reduces the effects of actions that might worsen discomfort or pain, such as grinding or clenching. It helps your jaw stay in position.
3. You Have Sleep Apnoea
If you have sleep apnoea, then the soft tissues around your airways prevent you from breathing naturally as you sleep. You will wake up regularly in the night when your soft tissues temporarily block your breathing.
Many patients find that a night guard has beneficial effects on their condition and quality of sleep. For example, your dentist can make a guard that moves your lower jaw forward so that your soft tissues don't block your airways. You'll have an undisturbed night.
To find out more about night guards and how they might help you, talk to your dentist.