I’m Joe Neely, and I practice with theBarton Oaks Dental Group. I’m going to talk about using a night guard for tooth grinding,or in many cases for tooth clinching. Since probably more people simply clinch with excessiveforces, than grind. The night guard has three purposes. The first purpose is to simply putsomething in between your two sets of teeth, top and bottom, that’s softer than your toothenamel. The plastic that a night guard is made out of, even though it feels hard, ismuch less dense than your tooth, and so if somethings going to wear, the plastic willwear. The second thing the night guard does, is, because it has some thickness to it, itgives the muscle a different position to rest
in, and to function in. Striated muscles,if you stretch them a little bit, if you extend them, and then contract them, its therapeuticfor the muscle. It’s the same thing a runner would do when they’re stretching their legs,or ballerinas stretching out, or a gymnast. You’re basically are functioning with thatmuscle at a longer position for the muscle. The third thing the night guard does, is,it gives your jaw support and yet freedom of function. The, the purpose of a custommade night guard, like any orthotic for our sh, sh, running shoes or whatever, is it canbe shaped to fit the patient’s bite exactly. To where when you bite down, you have fullsupport, even support, and when you go through
the different motions and movements of thejaw, your, the, the plastic is shaped to where it puts that jaw through an ideal patternof movement, rather than a hard pattern of movement. The reason that you wouldn’t wantto go to the sporting goods store and get an athletic mouthpiece, is that as you biteinto the athletic mouthpiece, your teeth, top and bottom, sink into that mold, and nowyour teeth are locked in position. And so, with the mouthpiece in place, if you needto, if you’re functioning, then your, the teeth slide across the plastic. If they’relocked into position, and you grind, then the only thing that, that gets torn up isthe joint, and that’s not a good thing.