An occlusal guard, commonly referred to as an appliance, may be indicated for several of the following reasons:
To protect your teeth from conscious and unconscious clenching or grinding. These habits can cause your teeth to have excessive wear, sensitivity, movement, mobility, or pain. This places the teeth at risk of splitting or fracture, and it can accelerate gum disease or cause damage to the nerves of the teeth.
To assess what you do with your teeth and how your facial pain, headaches, or joint pain are related to the fit of your teeth.
To find out where your teeth should fit when your jaw joints and muscles are most comfortable and relaxed.
To further assess if physical therapy or other testing or referrals would be appropriate.
To discover more of what you do with your teeth before any complex dental work is done that reconstructs your bite.
To assess how you will adapt to planned changes in your bite that are made with a removable and reversible splint.
An appliance is designed to:
Provide solid, balanced support for your bite. This helps provide stability in the jaw joints, in turn providing muscle relaxation and comfort.
Provide equal and simultaneous pressure when solidly biting on your back teeth. This provides the best stress distribution for your back teeth with minimal joint and muscle fatigue.
Provide smooth contacts on your front teeth when you move away from your back teeth. This provides non-stressful guidance on your front teeth and reduces lateral stressors on your back teeth.
Provide healthy, non-restrictive range of motion for your jaw muscles, which improves comfort and reduces muscle fatigue and spasms.
What to expect while using an appliance:
Most people adapt very quickly, as our appliance is very thin, smooth, and highly refined to your unique bite.
There may be a slight initial increase in saliva flow, which will typically subside after one or two days.
The thickness will affect speech, which is the most common reason people do not where their appliance during the day.
If you are having a hard time adapting to your appliance, begin by wearing it for shorter periods of time and gradually increase use.
Some people notice that they clench more initially with the appliance, as it brings previously unconscious activity to the conscious mind.
You do not need to test all the various bite positions at home that we look for while you are at the office. While wearing the appliance, pay particular attention to the feelings that arise from normal use.
Your jaw may be somewhat sore after appointments. Wearing the appliance more, rather than less, can help to eliminate the soreness. If needed, there are special jaw exercises we can demonstrate.