What does an orthodontic mouth guard treat?

Dante A. Gonzales, DMD
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics
An orthodontic mouth guard, or more commonly known as a "night guard" is a custom made appliance made of hard plastic acrylic. It is typically 2-4 mm thick and is worn on the upper jaw when sleeping. When worn it will help protect the teeth from any clenching and grinding. The appliance is worn mainly at night and provides some separation between the upper and lower teeth. The appliance does not stop the patient from clenching or grinding their teeth but it does protect the teeth and the jaw joint during these parafunctional activities. Because the upper and lower teeth do not touch when the mouth guard is worn, there is less likelihood of fracturing or chipping teeth. In addition, because the jaw cannot close all of the way the jaw joint remains slightly open and the tissues inside of the joint remain less impacted by clenching and grinding.  These "parafunctional" behaviors are usually done at night when patients are unaware of what their jaws are doing. The night guard will not stop these activities, but it will help prevent any damage to the teeth and jaw joint (TMJ).

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