1. Night guards
A night guard is a clear, tray-like appliance worn while a patient is sleeping. There are several reasons why a patient may need a night-guard and two of the most common reasons include protecting teeth from night-time grinding and/or clenching. This destructive activity (grinding and/ or clenching) is called “bruxism”. In patients with these conditions, unless a night guard is worn, with time, the teeth can wear down, causing the patient’s bite to change, with such changes leading to possible chronic jaw joint problems and teeth problems such as sensitivity, severe wear, pain and, in extreme cases, tooth loss.
When a patient has braces, it is not possible to customize a night guard. Only after orthodontic treatment is completed can a special customizable night guard be made to go over the straightened teeth. It is made of acrylic material that will be able to mold around the teeth and it will be hard enough to protect the teeth when worn at night. Nightguards are very comfortable to wear. As a matter of fact, patients report after wearing the nightguard for a while, it is uncomfortable not to wear the nightguard during sleep.
2. Bite splints
Jaw Joint Problems: TMD/TMJ
Patients with an improper bite (a malocclusion) may suffer from jaw joint pain known as TMD or temporomandibular joint disorder (also commonly referred to as “TMJ”). This situation happens when the jaws joints do not stay properly in the bony joint sockets, leading the joint complex to wear and causing the surrounding tissues and muscles to fatigue.
Bite Splint Therapy
A bite splint helps to relieve the pain caused by TMD by allowing the joints to stay in their proper position, while deactivating or shutting down the muscles of the jaw. This stabilization allows the muscles to relax instead of being in a constant strained position – which can cause jaw pain.
What is a Bite Splint?
A bite splint appliance is a plastic tray that molds around the teeth; and unlike a traditional night guard, a bite splint has a flat surface. This flat surface allows the jaws to glide freely into the most comfortable position, as the splint will prevent the teeth from locking the jaws in the bite position. The appliance should be adjusted often as treatment progresses and over time will generally provide excellent results for the wearer.