Patients keep asking, why they need a dental mouth guard? In this post, Dr. Khalifeh will discuss the types of mouth guard, benefits for teeth grinding, for TMJ disorder pain, for sports, for sleeping and sleep apnea. In Addition, we will teach you how to used the mouth splint. We will let you know how to clean and maintain your mouth guard in good condition. You should know your options when choosing between different types of guards. We will help you make the best decision based on our long experience and scientific evidence.
What is a Mouth Guard?
A dental mouth guard also called, occlusal guard, occlusal splint, night guard and splint appliance. It is a removable appliance you put on your teeth to protect the teeth from grinding and to relief your TMJ pain. Occlusal splints also have many other medical and dental indications.
What are Mouth Guards Used for?
Mouth guards or occlusal splints are indicated for many dental and medical conditions. However, these conditions include:
- Teeth grinding
- TMJ disorder pain
- Myofascial pain
- TMJ arthritis
- Protect dental restorations
- Relief ear fullness
- Tinnitus and ear ringing
- Dizziness and imbalance
- Sport guards to protect your teeth during high impact sports such as football mouth guards and splints used for boxing and basketball
- Mouth guards for sleep and sleep apnea
- Oro-motor movement disorders.
What are the Types of Mouth Guard?
Occlusal guards are categorized according to their material, manufacturing technique, design and intended function.
Mouth guard types based on their material:
- Hard Splint: the most commonly used guards for long term teeth protection and TMJ pain relief.
- Soft Splint: used for short period of time in patients with very painful hot TMJ.
- Semi-hard Splint: most comfortable guard. They can be used for any medical and dental conditions.
Types of mouth guards based on how they are made:
- Custom made mouth guards: these are the best fitting and most comfortable type. They are also the most expensive.
- Stock occlusal splints: These splints are pre-made in different sizes by commercial companies. Therefor, they can be used for short period but, they are not very comfortable.
- Boil and Bite mouth splints: these guards are made of thermoplastic material. You place the material in boiling water till it gets soft. After that, you shape it to fit your dental arche, put it in the mouth and bite on it to fit it to the opposing teeth. These guards are the least expensive and the least effective. However, they can be used only for short time to prevent changes in your bite.
Mouth guard types based on design:
- Full coverage occlusal splints: these can be upper or lower or both. Dr. Khalifeh always recommend a full coverage occlusal guard because they are best for preventing bite changes.
- Partial coverage mouth splints: this type of occlusal splints covers only part of the dental arch. They feel comfortable but they carry the risk of bite change that might requires expensive orthodontic treatment to correct. An example of this splint is the NTI Night Guard.
Mouth guard types based on intended function:
- Stabilizing guard: this splint usually has deep indentations for the opposing teeth with the intention to stabilize the bite. This mouth guard is great for teeth grinding.
- Repositioning mouth guard: in most cases this splint reposition the lower jaw forward to help recapture a recently dislocated TMJ disc. Repositioning splints are also used to treat obstructive sleep apnea.
- Flat surface guard: This appliance allows free movement of the opposing teeth without restriction. This is a great splint for clinchers.
What are the Standards for a Good Mouth Guard?
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), a good occlusal guard should meet the following requirements:
- Should precisely fit the dental arch
- Must be made from and FDA approved material
- Should cover all teeth on one or both arche
- Must feel comfortable and secure
- Should be easily cleaned
- Should maintain occlusal bite force impact absorption
- Must be able to reduce force transmission produced by sport or teeth grinding activity
Dr. Khalifeh’s Recommendations for Using Occlusal Guard
Dr. Khalifeh recommends that you get a custom occlusal guard. However, you may use a stock or boils and bite mouth splint for short time while waiting for your custom appliance to be ready.
- First week after you get your occlusal guard, you should use it for 2-4 hours a day but do not sleep with it.
- Second week, try to sleep with it every night for 2-3 months.
- After that, stop using it for 1-2 weeks.
- Repeat step 1-3 afterwords.
How to Take Care of Your Mouth Guard?
- You should keep your splint clean all the time. We will teach you the best way to clean your occlusal guard at the end of this post.
- Keep it in a protective case away from your dog if you have one. Dogs like to chew occlusal splints.
- You should never put your mouth splint in a napkin because it is easy to throw it a way and loose it.
- Bring your occlusal guard with you on your dental check up appointments. Dr. Khalifeh likes to inspect the fit of your splint regularly.
- Splints will discolor with time, don’t use bleach to clean your occlusal splint.
- Do not use your occlusal splint if it is broken or damaged.
How to Clean Mouth Guard?
You should clean your guard after each use using tooth paste and tooth brush. After that, rinse it with tap water and let it air dry. Avoid using bleach products to clean your mouth guard.
A dental mouth guard when indicated is very helpful. A well fitted occlusal guard is an investment, it will protect your teeth and your bite. Mouth guard is great for TMJ pain relief and obstructive sleep apnea too. You should not settle for cheep poorly made mouth splint that might cause more harm that help. The money you save by choosing a cheep oral appliance will cost you more to fix the damage made by a poor fitting guard. Additionally, a mouth guard cannot stop teeth grinding as many dentists claim although it can help your TMJ symptoms.
Therefore, don’t settle for pain or discomfort. Contact us today to get a custom fit mouth guard for yourself. Our Orofacial pain specialist doctor will address your TMJ disorder needs using customized and scientifically proven treatment.