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Do I Need an Occlusal Guard?

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Do you wake up with a sore jaw?  Does it seem like you have a lot of dull headaches?  Have you chipped or broken any of your teeth?  If so, your Dentist in Smithfield NC may recommend an occlusal guard to provide protection and relief.

An occlusal guard is a dental appliance worn over the teeth to protect them.  They are commonly used to treat temporomandibular joint problems, known as TMJ.  TMJ is caused by many factors including, grinding and clenching your teeth, misaligned teeth or jaw, arthritis, and even stress.  There are various symptoms that can range from mild to severe. Depending on the cause of your symptoms, you may experience headaches, neck and shoulder pain or jaw soreness.  Also, if you are grinding or clenching your teeth, you may find that you are more prone to chipped teeth and broken fillings.

Most people grind and clench their teeth while they are sleeping.  This makes it hard to realize that the habit is occurring. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s extremely important to mention them during your dental visits.

There are 3 common types of occlusal guards: ready-made, boil and bite, and custom made.

  • Ready-made guards are available over the counter at most pharmacies.  These guards are made in a standard shape and come in a few different sizes.  They do not form to your teeth and cannot be adjusted.
  • Boil and bite guards are also sold over the counter.  They are to be placed in boiling water to soften them and then you bite into them to form them to your teeth.

Without the supervision of your dentist, the effectiveness of these two types of guards cannot be guaranteed.

  • Custom made occlusal guard is one that is made specifically for your mouth.  Impressions of your mouth will be taken by your dentist and then a guard will be customized to fit your teeth.

If you think you may need an occlusal guard, make an appointment to see your Smithfield family dentist today.  It’s the right way to protect your teeth, your muscles and joints, and increase your comfort.

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