What is a night guard?
A night guard, also known as a mouth guard or dental split, is a device made of plastic that covers all or part of the teeth. It is typically worn through the night to prevent you from grinding your teeth while you are sleeping.
Why are they used?
You would use a night guard if you are suffering from a condition known as bruxism. Bruxism causes you to grind your teeth or clench your jaw typically when you are sleeping, although, it can happen unconsciously to some people while they are awake and under stress.
The main aim of a nightguard is to separate your top and bottom teeth so they don’t damage each other from the pressure of grinding or clenching.
How is the night guard made?
Your dentist makes an impression of your top and bottom teeth. From this, they then make a plaster cast which is sent to a dental laboratory. The materials they use, which are either soft, dual laminate or hard acrylic, are then shaped around the mould to create your custom-fitted night guard.
When you wear your new night guard at night, it should fit perfectly and not cause any pain or discomfort.
How do you clean a night guard?
You can brush the night guard using a toothbrush and toothpaste and then rinse it with warm water. Your dentist may also give you an antimicrobial solution in which you can soak your night guard to remove any foreign organisms.
You should store your night guard in its protective case (which you should also clean) during the day, but you should make sure it has ventilation so it can dry and prevent any regrowth of bacteria.
When should you replace your night guard?
When you receive your new night guard, it will be shiny and smooth; however, after heavy use, it can become rough and sometimes develop tiny cracks. These tiny cracks are not only good places for bacteria to grow, but they can damage your gums at night and create a place for bacteria to enter your body.
It is important to talk to your dentist about replacing your night guard when it starts to show signs of heavy use.