A nightguard, also known as a dental nightguard or occlusal splint, is a dental device worn while sleeping to protect the teeth and jaws. At First Smile Family Dental, it is typically made of thin, transparent, and durable material, such as acrylic or soft plastic, and is custom-fitted to the individual's teeth. The primary purpose of a nightguard is to prevent the damaging effects of bruxism. Bruxism can lead to worn-down teeth, tooth sensitivity, jaw pain, headaches, and other dental and facial problems. The nightguard acts as a protective barrier between the upper and lower teeth, reducing the impact of grinding or clenching forces.
The Benefits of Nightguards
Teeth Grinding or Bruxism
Bruxism is a condition characterized by the grinding or clenching of teeth, especially during sleep. Nightguards provide a cushioning barrier between the upper and lower teeth, preventing them from coming into direct contact and reducing the potential damage caused by grinding.
Tooth Wear and Erosion
Persistent teeth grinding can lead to excessive wear of tooth enamel over time. Nightguards help protect the teeth from further erosion by providing a barrier and distributing the grinding forces more evenly.
Jaw Pain and TMJ Disorders
Bruxism can also contribute to jaw pain, headaches, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. Nightguards help alleviate these symptoms by providing a comfortable and stable bite position, reducing pressure on the jaw joint and muscles.
Types of Nightguards
These nightguards are the most recommended and commonly used. They are custom-made by a dentist or a dental laboratory to fit your teeth and jaws' specific shape and alignment. Custom-fitted nightguards provide the best comfort, fit, and protection. The dentist takes impressions or scans of your teeth, and the nightguard is fabricated based on these precise measurements.
Stock nightguards are pre-made and available over-the-counter at pharmacies or stores. They come in limited sizes and cannot be customized to fit your teeth. While stock nightguards are relatively affordable, they may need to fit better, be comfortable to wear, and provide less protection than custom-fitted options. They are a temporary solution for mild bruxism.
Boil-and-bite nightguards are also available over-the-counter. They are made from a thermoplastic material that softens when boiled. After softening, you bite into the material to create a mold of your teeth. While they offer a better fit than stock nightguards, they still lack the precise customization of custom-fitted nightguards.
The most effective and comfortable nightguard option is a custom-fitted nightguard designed to fit your mouth and address your individual needs. Visit First Smile Family Dental at 32717 1st Ave S., Suite 9, Federal Way, WA 98003, or call (253) 785-7323 to learn more about the benefits of nightguards.