Night Guards are recommended for patients with grinding and clenching issues and also often to treat temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) pain. Nightguards should be custom made with hard acrylic in order to be of therapeutic benefit. The benefit of a properly made night guard is four-fold:
- They separate the teeth, and in doing so, prevent wear damage on the chewing surface and abfraction damage on the teeth. Abfraction is flexing of the teeth by clenching, which causes wedges of tooth structure to break out at the neck of the tooth, causing notching.
- When the wearer clenches or bites on the guard, pressure is placed on the incisors which acts as a shut-off switch to the muscles of mastication that are the source of the grinding and clenching.
- They prevent over closing of the joint which can cause damage to the condyle of the TMJ.
- They protect the porcelain of crowns and tooth structure from damaging grinding and clenching that occurs during sleep.
Do not use store bought boil and bite guards! While they WILL separate the teeth, they are soft and CHEWY. This bouncy material will not shut off the clenching, but will worsen it, causing sore jaw muscles. People who wear them at night often complain of joint pain, and muscle pain and bulkiness.