Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (also commonly referred to as TMJ):
Bruxism (clenching and grinding)
An occlusal guard, also known as a night guard or bite guard, comes in many varieties and can be used to treat or prevent tooth, muscle, and joint problems. In its most basic form, an occlusal guard places a hard plastic barrier between your teeth, and like a cell phone cover, acts to absorb damaging forces. Habits such as clenching and grinding can slowly wear away teeth, making them short, discolored, and sensitive. They can also lead to tooth fracture and tooth pain. Tooth fracture from clenching and grinding will often lead to the need for crowns, root canals, or complete loss of the teeth. A piece of plastic can go a long way to protecting your longterm oral health.
While an occlusal guard may seem like a simple appliance, the design and material technology is very sophisticated. The inside lining is often made with a softer material for comfort, while the outside is very rigid and hard. This hard surface when contacted, sends a signal from your teeth to your muscles to release and relax. Softer materials, like chewing gum, often trigger the brain and muscles to continue to clench and grind. For those who clench and develop headaches or muscle pain, a soft guard can cause damage and considerably worsen symptoms.Below is a video that demonstrates one of our favorite appliances for treating clenching, grinding, and muscle related TMJ problems.