Occlusal Guards (Night Guards)
Occlusal guards, or otherwise known as night guards, are custom removable appliances that fit over your teeth. They are used to prevent the teeth from wearing down during sleep due to nightly clenching and grinding. The guards are generally made for the upper teeth but in more serious cases an upper and lower guard would be needed. Occlusal guards are made from either resin made from heat-cured acrylic, vinyl, soft acrylic or a light-cured composite. The guards come in a soft, hard or hard/soft form (soft on the inner parts of the guard, hard on the outside).
Do I Need an Occlusal Guard?
If you often wake up with a headache or tooth ache or have jaw joint pain you may be a good candidate for an occlusal guard. At your routine dental examination, your dentist will be able to properly diagnose if you need an occlusal guard or not. The dentist will clinically look for teeth that have been abnormally ground down, have a flattened surface or amalgam fillings with a 'shiny' appearance.
How Do Occlusal Guards Work?
The primary function of the occlusal guard is to limit tooth damage and occlusal wear caused by clenching and grinding of the teeth. Occlusal guards help jaw joints relax which results in less teeth clenching and grinding which helps prevent jaw joint problems that could eventually occur. After the dentist diagnoses you with needing an occlusal guard, it will usually take two visits for the patient to receive the finished guard. An impression is taken of the patient's teeth along with recording the 'bite' so the laboratory fabricating the guard can make the fit as custom as possible for the patient. Once the patient receives the guard it can take several weeks to get use to wearing it; however, after the initial few weeks, most users find they are unable to sleep without it.
The Thornton Adjustable Positioner, or TAP, is a custom made mandibular (lower jaw) device specifically engineered for keeping your airway open during sleep. Patients wear the device all night, every night as a highly effective solution for both snoring and sleep apnea. This technology not only allows you to advance your lower jaw with greater range than any other device, it also makes it incredibly comfortable and easy to adjust your device while it’s in your mouth. Most patients experience relief the very first night they wear their TAP. Although it may take up to a week to get used to wearing a TAP appliance, this is a small hurdle for patients.