What is an occlusal guard?
Occlusal Guards are removable devices that fit over the teeth and are used to help prevent the wearing down of teeth during sleep due to night time grinding and clenching. Sometimes these guards are also worn during the day if the patient's problems are more serious than just the average teeth grinding problems.
How do occlusal guards work?
The purpose of the occlusal guard is to prevent further tooth damage due to clenching and grinding of the teeth. It also helps to prevent more wear on the surface of the teeth. The guards help relax the jaws which in the process lessen teeth grinding and clenching and therefore protects the jaw from joint problems that could eventually occur.
When a dentist prescribes and occlusal guard, it will usually take two visits for the patient to receive the finished product. A mold is made of the patient's mouth, either all the teeth on both the top and bottom or just one or the other. This mold is then sent to a lab that will make the guards to custom fit the teeth. The second visit is for the dentist to check the fitting of the guard that was made and to explain how to wear it and how to take care of it.
The majority of people that need to use the occlusal guard only need to wear the upper guard, also called a maxillary guard. A few people will be given the lower guard, or mandibular guard. By wearing an occlusal guard, it will prevent further surface damage on teeth; lessen gum problems, release jaw tension and it will help keep teeth strong.
Sometimes it may take several weeks of wearing the occlusal guard before they feel totally comfortable to wear. After that, most users find they cannot sleep without them.