A mouthguard is a protective device or appliance for the mouth that covers the teeth and gums to prevent and reduce injury to the teeth, gums, arches, and lips. An effective mouthguard is like a crash helmet for both your teeth and jaws.
Mouth Guards and Night Guards are dental appliances that often are recommended for several oral health issues, the most common being if you are suffering with TMJ/TMD or Bruxism (teeth grinding). Mouth guards (which are suggested if you engage in sports or intense physical activity) tend to be more affordable and do not require a prescription. Night guards are usually made in a laboratory and are custom designed for your unique bite.
Our compassionate team at DC Dental Spa are experienced with both night guards and mouth guards. We have added this technology to our warm atmosphere, which helps us comfortably evaluate your problem to devise a solution quickly. Call 202-873-1054 for your initial consultation and let us help you decide if we can fit you for a night guard or a mouth guard to protect your healthy smile.
Mouth guards and night guards are both effective methods for preventing damage to your teeth, jaw, and overall oral health. If you report common symptoms associated with TMJ/TMD or Bruxism such as headaches, chronic jaw pain, and a general feeling of restlessness caused by disrupted sleep then a night guard certainly will be an appropriate solution for you to address those symptoms.
The Types of Night Guards and Mouth Guards
- Soft Night Guard- Most used type of night guard for Bruxism and used for mild or occasional cases, not for severe teeth grinders. They are the most comfortable fit of all the night guards, the most adaptable and easy to get used to and usually lower in cost. This guard is not as durable, usually only has a 6-month warranty are not long-term solution.
- Dual Laminate Night Guards- This type of night guard for Bruxism is for moderately severe teeth grinders. They are soft on the inside and hard on the outside. They handle heavy clenching and grinding, are longer lasting and usually offer a longer warranty than soft guards. These are thicker are harder to get used to.
- Hard Night Guards- Hard night guards for Bruxism are made from acrylic and are extremely rigid but durable. They can be used for very severe cases of grinding, as well as TMJ. These are the most durable, they prevent your teeth from shifting and usually offer the longest warranty. These are made from an accurate dental impression, are the thickest option and are the most uncomfortable.
Fitting your Night Guard or Mouth Guard
Personalizing the fit of your night guard will depend on the brand. Here are the examples of night guards for Bruxism:
- “One-size-fits-all.” There are over-the-counter mouth guards you can buy that will not be custom fitted. These will work if you are an occasional teeth grinder and are the lowest-cost option.
- “Boil and bite.” With these you just boil in water and bite into it to leave your own impression. It is usually simple to do and seems to be the most common type used.
- Order online. There are night guards you can order online. You need to send in your impression to them and they mail back your fitted mouthpiece.
- Made in lab. You can get mouth guards right from DC Dental Spa. These offer the most accurate fit because they are made with your impression in our lab.
If you suspect you may suffer from Bruxism, do not worry. It can easily be treated with night guards. It is always best to see us to see if we can discover the root cause and address that before seeking other treatment. As an example, sleep apnea may be the underlying cause.
Proper Maintenance of your Night Guard or Mouth Guard
It is important to perform regular cleaning of your mouth guard or night guard every night. Before handling your guard, always wash your hands. When your hands are cleaned, you should rinse the guard immediately and then brush the guard using toothpaste and your soft bristle toothbrush. Once cleaned, place your guard on a clean surface and let it dry. Once dried, store your guard in a proper case and preferably not in the bathroom, where it is likely to warp.
By following these best practices, your guard will last you a long time. It is important to be aware that eventually your guard will need to be replaced. Please bring your guard with you to your dental appointments so we can inspect your guard for any significant signs of wear and to make sure that it is still fitting properly.
More On TMJ/TMD
TMJ/TMD and Bruxism refer to oral health ailments that can develop in your jaw and face that are typically characterized by headaches, teeth grinding or pain in the jaw. If you leave these untreated, these disorders can result in serious damage occurring in the surrounding teeth and your jawbone and can even damage your hearing.
TMJ (temporomandibular joint) connects the temporal bones of your skull to your jaw and is responsible for the jaw being able to move both side to side and up and down. When this jaw joint becomes injured or inflamed, symptoms now can range from headaches, pain, numbness in the face, ringing in your ears, or a jaw that becomes locked or difficult to open.
TMJ disorders are usually classified into the following three categories:
- Myogenous TMJ problems: Most common type of TMD, Myogenous TMJ disorders involve muscle related pain and present as discomfort in the temple, jaw, shoulders, or neck. These are most often treated with Nightguards and even BOTOX® treatment.
- Jaw joint generated pain: Pain caused by internal derangement of TMJ, which can be the result from an injury to the condyles, displaced disc within the TMJ, or a dislocated jaw.
- Degenerative joint disease: Caused by other issues such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.
The exact cause of TMJ/TMD is unknown, but several potential contributing factors are:
- Dislocation of the Cushioning Disc
- Genetic predisposition
More on Bruxism
Bruxism is a condition that is characterized by the clenching, gnashing, or grinding your teeth. Bruxism can occur while you are awake or while sleeping. If you have sleep bruxism you commonly have related issues such as sleep apnea or snoring.
Common signs of bruxism include the following:
- Jaw Pain
- Worn Teeth
- Hearing Loss
- Fractures or Loose Teeth
High Quality Care You Can Trust
Our DC Dental Spa downtown office will make times work with you in accommodating your busy schedule. Our entire staff is compassionate and shares in your results and your satisfaction that comes with the continued development of strong and lasting relationships with each of our patients. We are grateful for your trust that you place in us. We are very patient, considerate, and intentional about exercising preventative overall dental health and delivering the enjoyment that comes with your healthy smile. Visit us today at DC Dental Spa, 730 24th St. NW, Suite 9, Washington, DC, 20037, or call 202-873-1054 for an evaluation and consultation to address your options when it comes to improving your life and protecting your smile with either a mouth guard or night guard.