Occlusal guards are customized, removable oral appliances that fit over the teeth and are used to prevent damage from harmful pressure and grinding. Occlusal guards are generally designed for one of two purposes: as night guards or as athletic guards.
Night guards are used to prevent damage to the teeth from bruxism, or teeth grinding and clenching while asleep. If not treated with a night guard, bruxism can lead to fractures and wear on the chewing surfaces of your teeth. It can also be a difficult disorder to diagnose since it most commonly occurs while you are unconscious. Common signs you may suffer from bruxism include:
- Tooth pain (especially in the morning)
- Soreness in the jaw
- Audible grinding sounds while sleeping
Athletic guards are used to protect the teeth by cushioning blows to the face during sporting activities. These are highly recommended for collision and contact sports such as boxing, football and rugby, but are advised for some non-contact sports as well, like ice-skating and gymnastics.