A bite guard is also known as a stress guard, teeth guard, dental guard or night guard.
It is a dental appliance that is provided by the dentist to protect your teeth from excessive grinding/clenching.
As the grinding/clenching happens mostly during sleep, the bite guard is often worn during the night. See our topic Grinding.
What does the treatment involve?
Your dentist takes an impression of your top or bottom teeth or both and sends the impressions to a dental technician. The bite guard is then made from acrylic (or other materials) that is shaped to fit your teeth. The dentist then makes sure the bite guard is tight enough on your teeth without being uncomfortable and simple maintenance instructions are given. Wearing the bite guard can feel uncomfortable for the first few days.
In extreme cases of bruxism it is advised to wear the bite guard even during the daytime when possible.
Advantages of the bite guard:
- It protects your teeth from the forces of grinding/clenching
- Since acrylic is softer, grinding against it does not harm the teeth.
- The forces are distributed more evenly on the whole bite rather than on an individual tooth.
- The new position of the bite changes the muscle signals to the brain and for many patients the grinding/clenching eases or ceases completely.
A dentist may prescribe thinner bite guards made of a more rubbery material. These will do if you suffer from mild bruxism during stressful events in life such as during exams.
Can I have a bite guard made for my grinding child?
In a child, the jawbone is constantly growing. Wearing an acrylic bite guard will stop the jawbone from growing and shaping.
Luckily children grow out of the grinding/clenching condition as they lose their baby teeth and get the new permanent ones. If the grinding is causing your child discomfort, consult your dentist for the best advice.