For some, the answer is obvious that they need to protect their teeth at night. Their spouse may complain of the grinding noise, they may wake up with a sore jaw, or their teeth are becoming visibly worn or damaged. For others, the answer may not be so clear cut. So how do we know when there is a problem and how it should be treated? We will try to answer a few of the basics for you.
To protect your teeth at night, there are a few different types of appliances we can make depending on your symptoms and comfort. There are larger guards that cover all of the upper or lower teeth, and there are smaller ones that only rest on the front 6-8 teeth. In most cases we recommend starting with the smaller appliance because it is typically easier to adjust to and is better for treating the majority of symptoms. However, there are cases where we need to try different types of appliances with different variations to find the one that is best for you.
But what if you aren’t sure that you really need a night guard to protect your teeth? The first thing to remember is that in most cases it is a great preventative step to take in protecting your teeth every night. Even if you don’t show any serious signs or symptoms of wear, it will continue to protect your teeth and jaw in case any issues come and go in the future. Not only will a proper fitting guard protect against wear, but it will prevent cracks and fractures in your teeth. This can potentially save you thousands in the long run. And if you have any crowns, fillings or veneers on your front teeth, wearing a night guard is strongly recommended. One bad night can chip or break a restoration and be very difficult to fix.
So if I need a night guard, can I just get something over the counter? While there are some limited applications for a night guard that is not custom fitted, I strongly discourage you from wearing one without consulting a dentist first. While an over the counter guard will protect the teeth in the short term, it could potentially harm your jaw and cause some serious issues in the long run.
For more information, visit us at www.brownandkupper.com.
Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.