What are some indications that you may need a nightguard (also called occlusal splint and bite guard)? Bruxism and TMD (temporomandibular joint disorders) are common indications for such need. With bruxism and TMJ discomfort, some common signs and symptoms include:

  • Waking up with a sore and tired jaw, which may suggest nocturnal bruxism.
  • Generalized wearing down/flattening of your teeth, especially the canines, incisors, and premolars
  • Generalized worn tooth areas along the root surfaces of the teeth adjacent to the cheek
  • Teeth that are being repeatedly chipped, fractured, and breaking off.

Other indications that you may benefit from a nightguard include:

  • Moderate to severe periodontal disease
  • You have numerous crowns and implants and would like something cost effective to protect the porcelain.

How Are Nightguards Made

An in-office nightguard is custom made to conform to your teeth. Your dentist will first take impressions (alginate models) of your upper and lower teeth. These impressions are then poured into a model, which are then generally sent to a dental lab. The lab will custom fabricate the nightguard that conforms to your upper or lower teeth. The nightguard’s outer surface is made out of a hard, rigid, heat cured acrylic resin. The occlusal splint generally covers the maxillary dentition, though it may also cover the mandibular dentition. The splint may also be full or partial coverage.

This hard acyrlic material allows you to reduce the pressure on your teeth caused by the tension of your TMJ; hence it decreases your TMJ and jaw’s muscle tension and fatigue. The result is your jaw is less tired, and there is less stress on your teeth.

Your dentist may also be able to line the inner surface of the occlusal splint with a soft flexible material for increased comfort.

There are nightguards that you may be to purchase at the local pharmacy. However, these nightguards are not custom made to your dentition and in general have a soft rubbery exterior. The result is that your jaw would tend to “chew” these gummy like material, further increasing jaw discomfort and pain.