A night guard is also referred to as an occlusal orthotic or splint. Night guards are made of hard plastic acrylic and are custom fit to each individual patient. These devices designed to protect the teeth and the TMJ during sleep – when teeth grinding is uncontrollable. Some patients with multiple dental restorations such as porcelain crowns and veneers, wear a night guard for additional protection against porcelain fractures during sleep. Patients with multiple dental implant restorations are encouraged to wear an occlusal splint. Occlusal splints can also be used to treat dental emergencies of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). These night guards can provide significant relief of facial pain and migraine headaches when properly fabricated and adjusted to balance the biting forces and TMJ alignment.
It usually takes two dental visits to make a night guard. At the first visit, the dentist takes an impression of the upper or lower teeth – sometimes both. This visit usually takes about thirty to forty five minutes. After you leave, the impressions are poured into stone dental models of your teeth. The occlusal splint is then fabricated for the upper or lower jaw depending on what the doctor determines will be more comfortable for you to wear. At the second visit, the splint is tried into your mouth. Some adjustments are usually necessary to get the device to go in and out of the mouth without difficulty. Once the night guard is inserted and fits comfortably on the teeth, the biting surface is adjusted to provide maximum stability of the occlusion, TMJ, and facial muscles during sleep. Follow up care is necessary to check that the device is working. Dr. Michael usually suggests that his patients bring their night guards to their dental cleaning appointment. As part of your regular dental check up, Dr. Michael checks to make sure the splint is working correctly. Also, the hygienist will clean your splint in a special dental ultrasonic cleaner. So remember to bring your night guard to your dental cleaning appointments.