submitted by Dr. Michael Spadafora, D.D.S., Bucks County Dental Design
Appliances are wonderful things.
They solve problems, make life easier and give us more time.
Hand washing dishes, putting blocks of ice in a box to keep food cold, and building a wood fire to cook are all activities usually done by choice today.
Dental appliances are wonderful things also.
Dental appliances allow the dentist to solve problems, the patient to get relief from any number of issues, and dental work to be preserved.
The common appliance that can do all these things is a night guard.
When a patient chooses a new dental office, the dentist will usually do a comprehensive exam within the first few appointments.
At that exam he becomes aware of issues such as unusual teeth wear, jaw clicking or pain, teeth not meeting correctly, to name a few.
These issues, and more, have implications for the patient’s oral health, and often must be resolved before proceeding to further dental work.
The dentist may recommend appliance therapy, using a night guard, to attempt to resolve these issues.
A customized night guard is fabricated (either in the office or a dental lab) and then tweaked by the dentist.
It may take multiple visits to get the appliance just right.
When worn routinely, the night guard can keep the jaw in the right place and keep the patient from clenching or grinding his teeth.
The night guard gently trains the jaw to rest in the correct position.
Another time that a night guard may be recommended is at the completion of dental work.
Whether it is orthodontic (braces) or restorative (crowns and fillings) work, the night guard becomes a little insurance plan, ensuring that previous issues with the patient’s bite and jaw do not cause harm to the dental work.
Don’t be anxious if your dentist recommends a night guard.
Patients who swear that they will never get comfortable with it usually get to the point that they can’t sleep without it!