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  • Writer's picturePablo Janer

All about Night Guards!


Nightguards, also known as dental nightguards or occlusal guards, are custom-made devices worn over the teeth during sleep. They are indicated for several dental and medical conditions related to teeth grinding, jaw clenching, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. Here’s an overview of the indications for nightguards and how they work:


Indications for Nightguards


  1. Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

    1. Indication: Habitual grinding of teeth during sleep, which can lead to tooth wear, fractures, and sensitivity.

    2. Benefits: Nightguards act as a protective barrier between the upper and lower teeth, reducing the damage caused by grinding.

  2. Jaw Clenching

    1. Indication: Involuntary clenching of the jaw muscles during sleep, which can cause muscle fatigue, pain, and dental damage.

    2. Benefits: Nightguards help distribute the pressure evenly, minimizing muscle strain and protecting the teeth from excessive force.

  3. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders

    1. Indication: Conditions affecting the TMJ, leading to pain, discomfort, and dysfunction in the jaw joint and muscles.

    2. Benefits: Nightguards help alleviate pressure on the TMJ, reducing pain and improving jaw function.

  4. Tooth Protection

    1. Indication: Patients with extensive dental restorations (e.g., Implants, crowns, bridges, veneers) or orthodontic appliances that need protection during sleep.

    2. Benefits: Nightguards protect these restorations from damage due to grinding or clenching.

  5. Headaches and Migraines

    1. Indication: Chronic headaches and migraines associated with bruxism and TMJ disorders.

    2. Benefits: By reducing the strain on jaw muscles and joints, nightguards can help alleviate headache symptoms.


How Nightguards Work

  1. Barrier Protection

    1. Function: Nightguards provide a physical barrier between the upper and lower teeth, preventing direct contact and reducing the risk of tooth wear, fractures, and enamel damage.

  2. Even Pressure Distribution

    1. Function: Nightguards distribute the pressure from clenching and grinding evenly across the teeth and jaw, minimizing localized stress and muscle fatigue.

  3. Jaw Alignment

    1. Function: Custom-fitted nightguards can help maintain proper jaw alignment, reducing the risk of TMJ disorders and associated symptoms.

  4. Muscle Relaxation

    1. Function: By preventing excessive clenching, nightguards help relax the jaw muscles, reducing tension and pain.

  5. Cushioning Effect

    1. Function: Nightguards provide a cushioning effect, absorbing some of the forces generated during grinding and clenching, which protects the teeth and jaw joints.


Summary

Nightguards are indicated for conditions such as bruxism, jaw clenching, TMJ disorders, and for protecting dental restorations. They work by providing a protective barrier, distributing pressure evenly, maintaining jaw alignment, relaxing muscles, and cushioning the forces exerted during sleep. Custom nightguards are generally recommended for their superior fit and effectiveness, although over-the-counter options are available for milder cases.


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