Although they help us grind and chew food every day, teeth are actually more fragile than we might think.
Teeth can easily be damaged by a sudden shock. They can also be damaged by various dental problems, such as bruxism, parafunctions (i.e. chewing gum or nail biting, known as “onychophagia”) and malocclusions
A common solution to reduce the effects of these problems on the teeth is using a bite guard, also known as an occlusal splint.
Find out how this device can help you protect your teeth on a daily basis.
How can a bite guard reduce the effects of bruxism?
Bruxism is a condition that is difficult to control. However, its negative effects on dental health and the appearance of the teeth can be reduced.
One of the main solutions used by dental professionals is the use of a bite guard. In fact, it has many benefits for people who grind their teeth at night.
Prevent contact between your bottom and top teeth
Bite guards can be fitted to the upper or lower arch, depending on the patient’s needs. In addition, these devices are custom-made to provide better comfort and perfectly cover the shape of the patient’s teeth.
The bite guard prevents the upper and lower teeth from coming into direct contact at night. Therefore, even if the patient still has the reflex to grind their teeth, they can sleep peacefully knowing that their teeth will not be damaged.
Dental occlusion stabilization
One of the potential causes of bruxism is a poor alignment of the jaws, which causes problems with biting. This increases the risk of teeth grinding and, above all, of premature tooth wear.
A bite guard can help reduce the effects of bruxism caused by malocclusion. It helps stabilize the bite and allows the jaws to close with equal contact over the entire dentition.
Using a bite guard for TMJ disorders
A bite guard can also help relieve some disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), located on either side of the face, just anterior to the ears. Excessive forces, caused by bruxism and stress, genetic factors, or a combination of factors, can lead to joint pain.
Over time, the articular discs (cartilage cushioning in the joints) can shift into an abnormal position within the joint. This can lead to joint noises and pain when opening the mouth and chewing. Occasionally, some patients will develop difficulty opening their mouths or premature wear of the joint in question. Jaw alignment problems may result.
Here’s how a bite guard prevents this from happening.
The bite guard relieves pressure on the jaw joints
Bite guards reduce the strain on the jaw joints by limiting contact between teeth and stabilizing the occlusion. Pressure and tension are evenly distributed in the mouth, reducing stress in the jaw.
A bite guard is therefore a good non-invasive solution to treat certain TMJ disorders. However, in some cases, the bite guard does not really reduce the effects of TMJ disorders.
Other options, such as physiotherapy, Botox muscle injections, anti-inflammatory medication and a soft diet may be considered as conservative options. TMJ disorders are often caused by a variety of factors.
An orthognathic surgery may be required to treat more serious problems.
A bite guard can protect your teeth when playing sports
Wearing a bite guard is highly recommended, if not mandatory, for certain contact sports such as hockey, football or boxing. Not only does it protect the teeth when a player is hit, but it also has several other advantages.
For example, a bite guard can help reduce the risk of concussion. Some guards can also help to increase athletes’ stamina by enlarging the opening of the airways.
Tips for bite guard use and maintenance
The bite guard must be well maintained to increase its service life and optimize its use.
Here are some tips for use and maintenance if you have recently obtained a bite guard.
- Thoroughly brush then soften the bite guard by rinsing it under warm water before wearing it. Brush and floss your teeth as well before inserting it.
- The guard may feel thicker the first time you use it. This feeling will diminish the more you wear it.
- Let your bite guard air dry in the container after removing it.
- Clean the guard once a week with a denture cleaning solution to remove all minerals and stains.
Bite guard: a non-invasive solution to protect your teeth
In short, the bite guard is a good solution to keep your teeth healthy in a non-invasive way. This dental appliance helps reduce the effects of bruxism and certain TMJ disorders. It is also easy to use and maintain.
However, the bite guard is not always the best option to protect your teeth. Some cases may require certain non-invasive or surgical procedures that may permanently eliminate problems such as bruxism or TMJ disorder.
Looking for a maxillofacial surgeon who can offer you long-term solutions for your oral health problems? At Clinique Evoro, we offer various high-quality maxillofacial services.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment at our Gatineau clinic.