Night guards are tooth guards that are worn during sleep, or at the end of the day. They look just like the ones you see professional athletes wear during competitions; they are a solid piece of plastic that goes over your teeth. What is the function of these strange devices? Why are they used? What is their purpose? Find out in this short but informative article on night guards and their proper usage!
When are they used?
Night guards can have a myriad different functions. Most often they are used to prevent the negative effects of bruxism. Bruxism is a condition in which the patient unwittingly grinds his or her teeth at night, in their sleep. This behaviour is a problem because it ruins the enamel of the teeth, flattens the cusps, makes the teeth more prone to decay, it causes TMJ problems and jaw pain, and can even exasperate tooth loss in the long run.
To prevent this night guards go over the teeth and while the patient is grinding the teeth, only the night guards get ruined, the teeth remain intact. Some night guards can be used to guide teeth into a correct position, either as an orthodontic tool, or as a retainer later on.
The most important aspect of caring for your night guard is where you store it and how. Ideally, your night guard comes with a special case that was made for it. It is very important to keep your night guard in its case, for more than one reason. These cases are durable, and will keep the night guard from getting damaged. You should store the night guard in its case in a dry and cool location, as temperatures and steam can cause the material to warp. Because this is extra durable material, you may not notice that it has been warped for quite some time until it no longer fits properly. You also want to store it in its special case because these cases keep dust out but circulate air, preventing mildew from accumulating on it, which is extremely important.
To clean your night guard, simply use effervescent tablets used to clean dentures, and place them in the mixture for 30 minutes at a time. Afterwards, take a toothbrush that you use only for cleaning your night guard, and scrub all of the parts with hydrogen peroxide. Once this is done, rinse thoroughly, you may even want to soak it again in a light hydrogen peroxide mixture (1:4 dilution in plain water), and rinse it off yet again. Towel it dry and put it in its case, and it is ready to use later on.