Are you curious to know what is an occlusal guard? You have come to the right place as I am going to tell you everything about an occlusal guard in a very simple explanation. Without further discussion let’s begin to know what is an occlusal guard?
Your dental health is not limited to regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups. For many people, issues related to teeth grinding, jaw clenching, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders can be a cause of concern. That’s where an occlusal guard, sometimes referred to as a night guard, comes into play. In this blog, we’ll explore what an occlusal guard is, its purpose, how it works, and why it is an essential tool for maintaining dental health and preventing related issues.
What Is An Occlusal Guard?
An occlusal guard is a dental appliance made of soft, flexible, or rigid material that is custom-fitted to your teeth. It is designed to be worn over your upper or lower teeth, serving as a protective barrier between your upper and lower jaws. Occlusal guards are primarily used to address issues associated with bruxism, which is the medical term for teeth grinding and jaw clenching.
Key Aspects Of An Occlusal Guard:
- Custom-Fit: Occlusal guards are custom-fitted to the individual’s mouth, ensuring comfort and effectiveness.
- Protection: They protect teeth from the damage caused by grinding and clenching, as well as related dental issues.
- Prevention: Occlusal guards can help prevent or alleviate problems like bruxism, TMJ disorders, headaches, and damaged dental work.
- Nighttime Use: They are typically worn at night during sleep, but daytime usage may also be recommended in specific cases.
Common Dental Issues Addressed By Occlusal Guards
- Bruxism: Occlusal guards are highly effective in protecting teeth from the excessive wear and damage caused by grinding and clenching.
- TMJ Disorders: They can help alleviate the symptoms of TMJ disorders, such as jaw pain, clicking, and stiffness, by providing a cushioning effect and reducing the pressure on the joint.
- Headaches: Occlusal guards can reduce tension in the jaw muscles, which can help alleviate headaches, especially those caused by jaw clenching.
- Dental Work Protection: Individuals with dental restorations like crowns and veneers can benefit from occlusal guards as they protect these investments from damage due to bruxism.
How Occlusal Guards Work?
Occlusal guards function by creating a physical barrier between the upper and lower teeth. When an individual grinds their teeth or clenches their jaw, the forces are absorbed by the occlusal guard rather than the teeth themselves. This cushioning effect prevents wear and tear on the teeth, reduces the strain on the jaw joint, and minimizes the risk of dental damage.
The Process Of Getting An Occlusal Guard Typically Involves:
- Dental Examination: A dentist will examine your teeth and jaw to determine the need for an occlusal guard.
- Custom Impression: If deemed necessary, the dentist will take an impression of your teeth to create a custom-fit occlusal guard.
- Fitting: The occlusal guard is then fitted and adjusted to ensure it provides optimal protection and comfort.
- Maintenance: Regular maintenance and cleaning of the occlusal guard are necessary to ensure its longevity and effectiveness.
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The Benefits Of Occlusal Guards
- Prevent Dental Damage: Occlusal guards protect teeth from the harm caused by grinding and clenching, including tooth wear, fractures, and the erosion of enamel.
- Alleviate Pain: For individuals suffering from jaw pain and headaches due to bruxism or TMJ disorders, occlusal guards can provide relief.
- Protect Dental Work: If you have invested in dental restorations, an occlusal guard can protect this work from damage and prolong its lifespan.
- Improve Sleep: By reducing disruptive grinding and clenching, occlusal guards can contribute to better sleep quality.
An occlusal guard is a valuable dental appliance that serves as a protective barrier against teeth grinding, jaw clenching, and related dental issues. By custom-fitting to your teeth and providing a cushioning effect, it helps preserve your dental health, alleviate pain, and improve sleep quality. Whether you’re dealing with bruxism, TMJ disorders, or simply wish to protect your teeth and dental work, an occlusal guard can play a pivotal role in maintaining your dental health and enhancing your overall well-being.
What Is The Difference Between A Night Guard And An Occlusal Guard?
Also referred to as a nightguard, bite guard, or bite splint, an occlusal guard is a removable appliance that fits over your upper or lower teeth. It helps prevent damage to your teeth that can be caused by grinding and clenching, a destructive oral habit also known as bruxism.
Is Occlusal Guard Covered By Insurance?
Your insurance should cover the cost as long as your dentist deems a nightguard medically necessary. Generally, nightguards are anywhere from $300 to $1,000, depending on your dentist, location, oral health concern, and insurance plan.
Is An Occlusal Guard The Same As A Retainer?
Retainers are designed to help teeth stay in place while night guards are designed to protect teeth. People with bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching) need to wear night guards at night as a preventative measure.
Is An Occlusal Guard Worth It?
Wearing a mouth guard for jaw clenching and teeth grinding can help protect your teeth from excessive wear and provide relief from temporomandibular joint pain.
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