If you ever wake up in the morning with jaw soreness, muscle tightness, or ear pain, you are not alone. Grinding and clenching of the teeth is a very common problem and concerning for many reasons. When you grind and clench your teeth, you are causing wear and damage to the enamel layer on the outside of the tooth. Sometimes clenching and grinding can be so severe that teeth get completely ground away, or the tooth grinding translates into chronic, debilitating jaw pain.
An occlusal guard is an appliance that is custom fitted to the teeth to prevent the teeth from grinding together. It is most often worn at night time, when grinding/clenching are more prevalent, and it prevents the teeth from contacting and causing damage during moments of grinding. Instead of grinding the teeth together, the teeth grind into the plastic surface of the occlusal guard. It also helps with muscle tension and tenderness by propping the mouth open enough to relax the overworked and over-contracted muscles in the jaw. Many patients notice quick relief from muscle, tooth, and jaw pain and the procedure for fabricating an occlusal guard is so simple that they wonder why they did not do this sooner!