submitted by Dr. Michael Spadafora, D.D.S.
Last month I discussed the subject of night guards (also called appliance therapy or splints) because patients will often question the necessity or importance of this much-used dental tool.
You may remember that patients who have very significant wear patterns on the surface of their teeth present a special problem for the dental practitioner. The night guard is a solution to preparing the mouth for restorative work.
There are some patients who get to the dental office “in the nick of time.” They have the condition of bruxism (teeth grinding), but it has not yet developed into a major problem.
Perhaps the wear patterns are beginning to appear or the patient is complaining about a sore jaw or even headaches. In these cases, an appliance is the logical and cost effective solution.
The night guard will protect the mouth from the ravages of bruxism, while also protecting any dental work that has been completed.
Patients are sometimes skeptical that something as simple as a custom-made appliance can be so effective and comfortable, but it is true. A well-fitted mouth guard will become comfortable to wear (sometimes is takes a little time to get used to it) and is a very good dental value.
One of the reasons that dental work can fail is the pressure put on the teeth by the jaw, even when the patient is not aware of it. The night guard assists in stabilizing the new work and allows the jaw to adapt.
These mouth guards are usually fabricated in a dental lab and must not be confused with the mouth guards that are worn for sports or are purchased in a drug store.
Clearly, I am a strong proponent of appliance therapy, which I believe is one of the best values that dentistry has to offer.