Dentists are devoted to providing their patients with the very best dental care in order to preserve their smiles for years to come. Although many people associate dentists with preventing common dental issues such as tooth decay and gum disease, your dentist can also protect your teeth using certain methods.
One such method is a dental bite guard. Dental bite guards, also commonly called mouth guards or night guards, are special dental appliances that are worn during certain activities in order to prevent damage or injury to the teeth. There are three main reasons why one would need to wear a bite guard:
Protection from Grinding
Teeth grinding is a behavior were you bite down and move your teeth from side to side, while clenching is when you bite down with great force. Both of these behaviors are known as bruxism and are commonly associated with stress. They are also associated with headaches, jaw pain, and sore teeth. In some cases, the teeth may also chip or crack as a result of undergoing constant force.
Most people who grind or clench their teeth do so while they sleep and are unaware of what they’re doing. However, they may wake up feeling tired or with a headache. To help with these symptoms, as well as to prevent tooth damage or stain on the jaw joint, a night guard is often used. Night guards can fit over the entire top or bottom arch of teeth and are worn while sleeping.
Help with Sleep Apnea
Unfortunately, nighttime grinding and clenching is not the only thing that can happen during sleep. Another reason why your dentist may recommend a night guard is for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. With obstructive sleep apnea, the muscles towards the back of their mouth become so relaxed that they can cause the airway to become obstructed. Oral appliance therapy uses a dental night guard in order to position the jaw slightly forward. This position helps to keep the airway open and alleviates symptoms associated with sleep apnea.
Dental bite guards used during sports are known as sports mouth guards. This type of mouthguard fits around the teeth and gums to serve as a protective shield for the mouth. Some sports may require mouth guards, while your dentist may strongly recommend using one for other sports. Possible sports that can benefit from the use of a sport mouthguard include: basketball, boxing, hockey, soccer, gymnastics, mountain biking, baseball, and any sport that can potentially cause damage to the teeth or gums. Wearing a sports mouth guard can save you the pain, time, and expense associated with traumatic dental emergencies.
Overall, your general dentist may recommend a dental bite guard to help with teeth grinding or sleep apnea, as well as to protect your teeth while playing sports. All three types of bite guards are able to be removed and are generally only worn at night or during sports play. Just like dentists are devoted to your oral health, you should also be devoted to protecting your one and only smile.
Dr. April Toyer became a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry in 2011, which “certifies pediatric dentists based on standards of excellence that lead to high quality oral health care for infants, children, adolescents, and patients with special health care needs. Certification by the ABPD provides assurance to the public that a pediatric dentist has successfully completed accredited training and a voluntary examination process designed to continually validate the knowledge, skills, and experience requisite to the delivery of quality patient care.” She is proud to be a consultant for Committee of Sedation and Anesthesia for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.