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Orthodontic Treatment Services: Occlusal Guards (Bite Splints)

As part of his Carlisle, Dr. Killian provides occlusal guards. An occlusal guard is a removable device that fits within the upper or lower arches of teeth. Dr. Killian may suggest an occlusal guard to protect your teeth from damage or to relieve painful jaw dysfunction.

Why Would a Dentist Recommend Occlusal Guards?

Dr. Killian recommends occlusal guards (also called night guards or bite splints) for a number of conditions. One of the most common reasons is to protect your teeth from tooth-grinding while you sleep, a condition an dentist refers to as "nocturnal bruxism".

Nocturnal bruxism causes sensitive teeth, a sore jaw, headaches and earaches. You may not know you grind your teeth until evidence shows up on a routine dental exam. Nocturnal bruxism can also cause flattened, worn teeth, chipped tooth enamel and cracked or loosened teeth. Dr. Killian also recommends occlusal guards to treat symptoms of jaw dysfunction and reposition jaw joint problems that affect occlusion (how the upper and lower teeth meet).

Choosing an Occlusal Guard

Occlusal guards are made from vinyl, soft acrylic, heat-cured acrylic resin or light-cured composite materials. The most durable night guards are made from heat-cured acrylic. Softer materials may be used for temporary guards, and are also used for children, whose jaws and teeth change so quickly the child soon outgrows hard acrylic guards.

Depending on need, your occlusal guard usually covers all the teeth on the upper or lower arch, although partial guards are sometimes available. A maxillary guard covers the top teeth, while a mandibular splint covers the lower teeth. Maxillary splints are the more common of the two guard types. You'll probably only need to wear a single occlusal guard, although some conditions may require both maxillary and mandibular guards.

Using an Occlusal Guard

Dr. Killian will explain how to use and care for your occlusal guard. In most cases you'll wear the guard only at night. On the other hand, if you tense or clench your jaw during the day, you may need to wear the guard for periods of time while you're awake.

You may find that your bite feels different for a few minutes after you remove your occlusal guard. This is perfectly normal, and occurs because your jaw muscles relax while wearing the guard. Also, try not to clench the guard between your teeth. Doing so puts pressure on the jaw and can cause painful muscle spasms.

Lips Together, Teeth Apart

An old dentist saying goes "lips together, teeth apart," describing the best position for the jaw and teeth when not eating or talking. Try to bear this advice in mind both when you wear your occlusal guard and when you remove it; you'll put less pressure on your jaw muscles and save your teeth some wear and tear.

Orthodontic Treatment Services in Carlisle, PA

Dr. Killian understands that you want a doctor who has up-to-date knowledge of the latest treatment, but doesn't push treatments on you without cause. Too often a dentist pressures patients into expensive treatments whether they need them or not. As a resident of Carlisle, PA, Dr. Killian's goal is to provide you with only the necessary orthodontic treatment you need to improve your smile and dental health.

Other Orthodontics Services:

  • Fastbraces®
  • Palatal Expanders
  • Thumb Guards
  • Retainers