5 Important Benefits of a Night Guard

5 Important Benefits of a Night Guard

night guard is a prescription oral appliance that’s custom made to fit over your top or bottom set of teeth, or both. You wear this device, also called an oral splint or a nocturnal bite plate, when you sleep as you treat:

If you’ve been prescribed a custom night guard by our expert team at Smiles in Springfield, wearing it every time you sleep can ease the disruptive symptoms you’ve been experiencing, safeguard your oral health, and even protect your overall well-being.

Take a moment as Dr. Quang Tran and Dr. Truc Duong explore five important benefits of consistent night guard use.

1. Tooth protection and preservation

Most of the night guards we prescribe are used to treat bruxism, or the unconscious grinding and clenching of teeth during sleep. 

Many of our patients aren’t aware that they grind their teeth while they sleep, until our team notices signs of abnormal surface damage or excessive enamel wear during a routine dental exam.

When unconscious nighttime teeth grinding, clenching, or gnashing persists unchecked, it can be very hard on your teeth, increasing your risk of: 

Wearing a night guard when you sleep prevents bruxism-related tooth trauma by keeping your top teeth from coming into forcible contact with your bottom teeth. 

In addition to helping you avoid dental damage and pain, consistent night guard use protects your teeth from excessive wear, erosion, and loosening, providing a strong safeguard against tooth loss. 

2. Reduced jaw pain and tension

We also routinely prescribe night guards as a key part of a comprehensive TMJ treatment plan. Jaw joint pain and dysfunction can occur as a complication of untreated bruxism, or it can develop separately, in the absence of unconscious grinding.

But whether it occurs with or without bruxism, chronic TMJ pain often gets worse without intervention. In fact, TMJ problems that develop independent of teeth grinding often lead to bruxism without treatment. Persistent jaw tension and pain can also cause: 

By keeping your jaw in a more relaxed position while you sleep, consistent night guard use effectively eases TMJ-related tension and pain, helps you stop or avoid associated bruxism, and protects against the onset of a full-blown TMJ disorder.

3. Improved sleep with less snoring

We may also prescribe a custom oral appliance if we notice signs of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) during a dental exam. OSA is a chronic disorder that happens when the soft tissues of your airway partially collapse as you sleep, causing repeated pauses in breathing. 

Symptoms can include:

If you can’t tolerate continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, a custom oral appliance designed to keep your airway open is an excellent alternative solution. Besides putting an end to chronic snoring, night guard use helps restore normal sleeping patterns.

Given that bruxism and TMJ pain can also make it hard to get a good night’s sleep, this benefit also extends to anyone who wears a night guard to alleviate teeth grinding or jaw tension.

4. Fewer chronic headache episodes

Frequent headaches are a common side effect of bruxism, TMJ tension and pain, and OSA. Wearing a night guard to prevent teeth grinding, jaw clenching, and recurrent breathing pauses also helps prevent the chronic morning headaches these conditions so often cause. 

As your headaches diminish, you may also notice you’re holding less tension and strain through your neck, upper back, and shoulders, too. And most of the time, decreased chronic pain leads to increased vitality and an improved quality of life. 

5. Improved long-term health outlook

Given the simplicity of your night guard device and treatment protocol (just wear it each time you sleep), you might not think its use could offer major protective health benefits — but it most certainly does. 

How? The far-reaching, long-term positive health effects of night guard use stem from its sleep restoration benefits.

Poor-quality sleep or sleep that is frequently disrupted is associated with an increased risk of various serious physical and mental health conditions, ranging from high blood pressure, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes to anxiety, depression, and impaired memory. 

These risks are particularly high with OSA. That’s why sleep apnea should never go untreated.

To learn more about the many benefits of wearing a night guard — or to schedule your next dental exam with Dr. Tran or Dr. Duong at Smiles in Springfield in Springfield, Virginia — give us a call at 703-595-2403 today.

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