Are Occlusal Guards Effective?

Night Grinding is an involuntary activity that is commonly suffered at night-time, but may also be observed in the day. Often, bruxers do not even know they are sufferers, so their teeth continue to endure the damaging effects of the activity even before it is detected. At early stages, the effects of night grinding are as simple as flattening of the occlusal tables or biting surfaces of the mouth. When the condition is allowed to progress, the destruction becomes more severe that changes in the mouth are already very damaging on the patient. Unless properly resolved, the teeth will continue to endure all the damage and you will be left with badly damaged, sensitive teeth and constantly aching jaw joints.

When signs of night grinding manifest in the mouth, a patient can make a decision to see a dentist to have his condition assessed. Once diagnosed and confirmed to be signs of bruxism or night grinding, an occlusal guard (also known as a bite guard or night guard) is fabricated.

What are Occlusal Guards?

An occlusal guard is an oral appliance that may be obtained from the dentist’s office or commercially sold at sports stores and drugstores. Available in a variety of designs and thickness, mouth guards may be indicated for all kinds of uses, but occlusal guards that are prescribed to patients that suffer from bruxism are made of considerable thickness (enough to function as a shock absorber) using either rigid of soft material.

At present, there are three types of mouth guards available. 1) Custom-made occlusal guards that are fabricated from a dental cast created by taking an impression of the patients teeth; 2) Ready-made occlusal guards that are available in set sizes; and 3) Boil and Bite occlusal guards that have to be softened by heat so that the patient’s bite may be registered on the appliance. These different appliances perform the task differently, to varying degrees of effectiveness; however they all aim to offer protection.

Occlusal Guard are Effective for:

  • Protecting the teeth by cushioning the forces that are supposed to damage the teeth through constant night grinding. Without the appliance the teeth are open to endure all the damage, so wear is inevitable. 
  • Protecting the health of the jaws so that it can endure supposedly damaging effecs of involuntary and constant teeth clenching. The joints’ health are heavily compromised by severe and prolonged bruxism. By wearing an occlusal guard, sufficient protection is provided to the temporomandibular joint. 
  • Saving the patient from having to spend on excessive dental dental fees. Constant night grinding bring about a cascading effect in the mouth that will eventually signify the necessity for comprehensive dental treatment that is not only invasive but also very costly.

So, "are occlusal guards effective?"  Occlusal guards do not exactly cure night grinding, but they do cushion and protect the teeth.  Compared to other treatments, it is relatively simple, yet quite effective. Some other methods may also be offered to a bruxer, such as botox injections to relax the muscles responsible for the clenching and hypnotherapy to retrain the patient’s brain to drop the bad habit. Since reliability cannot be guaranteed from either method, the prescription of occlusal guards has long been the treatment of choice.

Looking for an occlusal guard?  Find out how to choose the best night guard for teeth grinding.