Greetings, my name is Dr. Kari Ann Hong and I have a family dentistry practice where I see patients from all age groups. In my practice, I see a number of patients that clench or grind their teeth at night. This extra function at night can cause headaches, morning muscle pain when chewing, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain, tooth pain, and breakage of teeth. The number one way to protect the teeth and muscle groups from the clenching and grinding is to wear a custom fitted night guard.
The first step in making a night guard is to take impressions of your teeth and to take an impression of how your teeth come together when your jaw is slightly open. From the impressions, we make stone models that are used to fabricate a custom fitted acrylic night guard. Usually we make the appliance for the lower arch. During the one hour fitting appointment, we adjust the surface of the acrylic so that when the upper teeth touch the appliance, they all hit evenly. Also, when you grind side to side or forward, the appliance is adjusted so that the majority of the force happens on the front off the appliance. This helps protect the facial muscle groups and the TMJ.
Due to concerns about the cost of a custom fitted night guard, sometimes patients will buy over the counter boil and bite type appliances. The disadvantage of these boil and bite appliances, is that the opposing teeth don’t have freedom of movement, thereby potentially causing additional interferences for the TMJ and increased firing of the muscle groups that help our jaw open and close. Depending on your medical and/or dental insurance plan, there usually is some coverage for a custom fitted night guard to treat TMJ pain. If you would like to find out if a custom fitted night guard is right for you, and what your cost would be, please fill out the contact us page.