Bite Guard – An Occlusal protective shield
The Bite Guard, or occlusal splint as it is more correctly called, is a protective shield that is worn between the teeth. It is principally used to protect the teeth from the damage of grinding when you are asleep, or during periods of high stress. The splint is also used to separate the upper and lower teeth while the dentist is analyzing the way the teeth come together, and for de-programming disadvantageous muscle habits that affect the position of the jaw in relation to the the Temporo-Mandibular Joint.
A bite guard is not the same thing as a protective Mouthguard which has a use in protecting the teeth during sporting or combative situations.
Soft guards are rarely made and should not be worn for a long period of time or over many days because the cause the teeth to shift during clenching.
The Bite Guard is usually made of hard clear plastic and covers all of the teeth in one arch, most commonly the upper arch of teeth. Some times guards are made for the lower jaw, it depends on the jaw relationship and the problems being treated. The guard covers all the teeth in one arch, and contact all the teeth in the opposing arch. It is usually adjusted so that all the teeth contact when the jaw is in its rearmost midmost position, often called centric relation.
A guard which is worn properly and kept clean, can last about 36 months.
It is not uncommon for the jaw to shift to a more comfortable position when using a guard, and then both the guard, and the teeth may need adjustments.
Patients often ask if they can just get a guard from a pharmacy or sports store, and if that will do. The answer is no, I’m sorry. These guards need to be very accurately made, and should be hard not soft and flexible, so a doctor needs to make and adjust them.
You should always bring your guard with you whenever you are coming to the dental office for a check up or cleaning or for maintenance. Professional cleaning helps to preserve the usefulness of the appliance, and it may need to be modified with time.
Care for your Bite Guard – instructions:
Please don’t leave your guard where your pets can find it. They love the smell!