What is an occlusal guard?
An occlusal guard is a horseshoe-shaped piece of plastic worn over the teeth to protect them against damage caused by clenching or grinding. Damage can include bone and gum tissue loss. It works by creating a physical barrier between your upper and lower teeth so that you can bite against the plastic rather than wear down your teeth. When you bite down, your teeth should slide evenly on the plate. The even sliding of your teeth prevents bone loss. When bone is lost, recession of the gums can occur. This loss can cause inflammation resulting in the loosening of the teeth and their eventual loss. Most people are unaware that they grind or clench their teeth. People tend to go through phases of grinding their teeth, such as times during stress.
When should I wear my occlusal guard?
Occlusal guards are usually worn at night when people cannot stop themselves from grinding or clenching their teeth. If you are a severe grinder, we may recommend that you wear it during the day, but this is not usually required. It is more important that the guard fits your teeth exactly or more damage can occur. Occlusal guards that you may purchase from other sources other than your dentist will not be a custom fit and will cause further damage to your teeth, gums, and bone.
What is an occlusal guard made of?
An occlusal guard is made of clear acrylic. We will take a digital impression of the models of your teeth to create a custom guard that will help prevent further bone, tissue, and tooth damage. As it is made of acrylic, it may become cloudy and discolored over time, but this does not affect the functionality of the guard.
How to take care of your occlusal guard.
When wearing your occlusal guard, please do not eat or drink anything other than water, as this may discolor it. Before using your occlusal guard, soak it in warm water for a few minutes. When removing it in the morning, brush it with your toothbrush and rinse with cold water. Following the manufacturer's instructions, you may occasionally soak it in a denture cleansing tablet. Always bring your occlusal guard to your appointments so we may professionally clean it and adjust it to your continually changing bite.