What Is a Night Guard?

Night guards are oral appliances used to prevent teeth grinding or clenching referred to as bruxism. These custom appliances are made to fit comfortably and support your lower and upper jaw to prevent friction and damage to your teeth. You may need a night guard if you experience:

  • Headaches and migraines
  • Earaches or ringing in the ears
  • Sore jaw joints (which may contribute to TMJ disorders)
  • Tension and pain in the head, neck and shoulder muscles
  • Pain and tightness in jaw muscles
  • Broken, chipped or worn teeth
  • Broken dentures or other oral appliances


Why Would I Need a Night Guard?

Bruxism is common and subconsciously occurs most often during sleep, but occasionally during the day. It tends to be associated with high levels of stress. The process of grinding causes the teeth to wear down, making them sensitive to temperature and puts the teeth at risk of fracturing. Muscles surrounding the jaw joint often become tired and sore, which may cause them to tighten. The muscle tension can lead to frequent headaches or severe neck aches. Repeated hard clenching of the teeth may also cause the jaw joint, called the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) to pop or click out of place. Dysfunction of the jaw joint can cause limited opening, discomfort while eating and locking in some cases. Many of these issues can be addressed with the use of a night guard, which helps the jaw muscles and joints to relax and also prevent symptoms from getting worse over time. If a night guard is recommended, impressions will be taken and sent to a lab where a properly fitting appliance made of a strong, hard, translucent plastic will be fabricated. This night guard will help you find relief and avoid unnecessary wear and tear to the teeth and jaw joints.

Further Information About Night Guards:

Though many of the primary symptoms associated with bruxism may be resolved using a night guard, some of the symptoms, such as strained muscles in the jaw, neck and back, or painful clicking or popping, may require more comprehensive treatment. Sometimes, it is necessary to refer patients to a TMJ specialist or physical therapist for more complex cases. If you are clenching your teeth during the day, we suggest consciously loosening your jaw and to avoid excessive chewing of gum.

For more information about night guards, call our dental office in Spokane, Washington, at 509-327-8681 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nicolas Gallegos, and we will gladly show you a night guard and explain its benefits to you.