General Dentistry
Preventative Dentistry

Occlusal Guards

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Occlusal Guards

A Brux guard, also known as an occlusal guard or nightguard, is an appliance which can have several forms.  Bruxing is defined as grinding.  First, a bruxing appliance is generally first thought of as a diagnostic tool.  What we mean by this is that wearing this appliance may finally help us to make a definitive diagnosis that the patient is suffering from TMD.  If there are no changes in the signs and symptoms you are experiencing, then it may be that you are suffering from some other source of discomfort/pain.  This is no different than ordering a blood test and getting a negative result.  It is still a very useful exercise.  In the event that it does prove useful, it now becomes a therapeutic device in that it is worn in order to reduce common signs and symptoms associated with bruxing.  A brux guard will generally have two effects. First, it may help you stop bruxing while wearing the appliance or, second, in the event that you continue to brux on the appliance, it will lessen the destructive forces of bruxing as well as reduce the wear and stress on the teeth, muscles and jaw joints. 

It is important to note that, in most cases, brux guards are tolerated with little or no problems.  In fact, many patients will refuse to sleep without it.  In some cases, these appliances may not be tolerated by some sensitive patients.  This may be due to a sense of crowding the tongue or gagging and may be alleviated by fitting the appliance on the opposite jaw.  In other instances, wearing a thin brux guard may still separate the patient’s lips during sleep when they weren’t separated before.  In the event, this happens, drooling and mouth breathing may be a common complaint.  Where this condition existed before hand, it is not significant.  Again, we must emphasize, that the brux guard is a diagnostic appliance and we cannot guarantee that all patients will tolerate it.  It should be checked frequently and may require modification or replacement, if you have any subsequent dental work done.  In that case, it may no longer fit over the teeth. 

Brux guards can either be made for the upper or the lower arch and can either cover the entire arch or just a portion of it. Its purpose is to provide even contact of all teeth across the entire arch as well as preventing contact among the inclined planes of the back teeth. Once an appliance is worn, we will look for improvements in the symptoms of TMD. Common remarks may include:

  • My headaches have gone.
  • I am sleeping much more comfortably.
  • I feel much less stress in my jaws.
  • My teeth are less sensitive.

Some further things to note once you begin using to your brux guard:

  • Your brux guard requires very little maintenance. Simple brushing of the appliance is all that is required. You may also rinse in mouthwash occasionally. Do not boil or microwave the appliance as this will distort it.
  • Bring this appliance along to your appointments. We like to evaluate it at your check-ups as well as alter it if you are having any restorative work done.
  • If you notice a change after wearing your appliance, please email or convey this information to us. This helps us understand the mechanics of your grinding as well as confirm the diagnosis. This information will be added to your records.
  • If you discontinue use of your guard, the teeth will shift such that the guard no longer fits. This might occur in as little as three months.
  • The most common problem associated with brux guards is loss. We cannot make a new one without starting from the beginning! The models are not useable once the processed brux guard is pulled off the model. We can only use a new accurate model.
  • Average brux guards may last 6 to 10 years, occasionally longer.

Occlusal guards provide habit-awareness physical protection of your teeth during clenching and grinding.

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