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Night Gaurds & Adjustments

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What Are Occlusal Guards and Occlusal Adjustments? Otherwise Known as Night Guards.

Not everyone is born with perfect teeth alignment. Sometimes a patient’s jaw does not align quite right and this creates an overbite or an underbite, something which can lead to serious dental problems down the road. The severity of the misalignment will dictate what type of treatment is recommended. Sometimes orthodontia is recommended. Other times, an imperfect bite may be treated by either an occlusal guard or an occlusal adjustment, which is also known as night guards..

A night guard is worn at night and is meant to help keep patients from involuntary clenching or grinding their teeth while they sleep, while an occlusal adjustment means adjusting the patient’s bite by reshaping and re-adjusting their teeth. An occlusal guard is more of a preventive measure, while an occlusal adjustment is more active treatment.

How We Can Help You

Patients in the Burke, Virginia area can trust the team at Burke Dental with all their preventive dental needs and that includes recommending procedures such as occlusal adjustment. Led by Dr. James Willis, the team at Burke Dental knows that each patient is an individual and that they need to be treated as such. That is why it is so important to book a consultation because it allows our staff to get an idea of the patient’s needs and make treatment recommendations accordingly.

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Benefits with an Occlusal Guard (Night Guard)

The type of treatment recommended depends on the severity of the problem and the specific issue that needs addressing. If the biggest concern is the fact that the patient grinds their teeth at night, then an occlusal guard will probably be recommended. Benefits to an occlusal guard (often referred to as a night guard) include:

  • Prevents teeth grinding. An occlusal guard prevents the patient’s teeth from rubbing together during the night. This reduces the risk of chips or damage to the teeth.
  • Reduces clenching. In addition to grinding their teeth, patients with alignment and bite issues often clench their jaw which puts stress on the teeth and on the patient’s temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Wearing an occlusal guard prevents the patient from clenching, which helps preserve the TMJ.
  • Enhanced Sleep. Teeth grinding can also be noisy and could be disruptive to your own sleep or to your partner’s sleep. An occlusal guard reduces or eliminates the noise associated with grinding. Some oral appliances can also be designed to help open the airway and reduce snoring.

Occlusal guards are worn primarily at night because that is when there is the highest risk of tooth damage. Clenching and grinding are involuntary actions that happen most often when the patient is asleep and has no control over their muscle function.

Because these actions are involuntary, it isn’t possible to just decide not to do it. Instead, some kind of barrier or treatment is needed. If involuntary reactions such as clenching or grinding are the main areas of concern, then the team at Burke Dental will mostly like recommend an occlusal guard over some of the other possible options.


Benefits with an Occlusal Adjustment

In some cases, an occlusal guard will not be enough to solve the problem. In some cases, the misalignment of the teeth can cause more serious health problems and needs to be adjusted before the problems can get worse. This is when an occlusal adjustment will be recommended. The benefits of an occlusal adjustment include:

  • Relieves pressure from the jaw. Sometimes teeth are removed or reshaped as part of the adjustment process to reduce the risk of clenching and to improve the teeth alignment, this can help reduce the risk of damage to the jawbone and to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
  • Improves bite. The shape of a person’s bite affects how they chew, how they talk, and many other day-to-day activities. A noticeable overbite or underbite can lead to potential problems down the road, and an occlusal adjustment may help minimize the problem.
  • Improved oral health. Occlusal problems can make good oral hygiene more difficult as it can interfere with flossing or brushing and it can lead to an increase of leftover food particles getting trapped around teeth. An adjustment changes the shape of a patient’s teeth and can help make them easier to care for.
  • Reduces the risk of chips and breaks. Grinding and clenching can lead to damaged teeth. An occlusal adjustment is more long-term solution, addressing the underlying problem instead of attempting to minimize the resulting symptoms.

An occlusal adjustment generally involves creating a better, more aligned bite. This could mean reshaping the actual teeth or removing a tooth to reduce crowding to realign the jaw line. The actual procedure is highly individualized and varies from patient to patient. If an occlusal adjustment is being considered by a patient, then someone from the Burke Dental office will sit down with them and go over the options and make our recommendations before deciding to move forward with the procedure.

Potential Problems Caused by Imperfect Bite

Imperfect alignment of the teeth might sound like a minor problem, but it can be quite serious and cause long-term issues. Some of the potential problems that can be caused by a misalignment of the teeth include:

  • Tooth grinding. If the teeth don’t line up properly, then they can rub up against each other which can lead to tooth damage. This often happens at night as an involuntary reflex and can cause long-term damage if not treated properly.
  • Damage to the jawbone or joint (TMJ Disorder). Dental misalignment can cause clenching which puts undue pressure on the patient’s jawbone and jaw joint, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This can lead to a large number of problems including TMJ Disorder, a potentially painful condition wherein the TMJ is degraded causing severe pain when opening the mouth or chewing.
  • Chipped or damaged teeth. An imperfect bite can cause the teeth to rub against each other, which can cause chips or cracks in the teeth. Even minor tooth damage can be worrisome because the damage can spread, which can lead to the tooth breaking or needing to be removed.
  • Teeth sensitivity. Repeated grinding and wearing of the teeth can lead to exposed nerves in the tooth’s surface which can increase sensitivity. Sensitive teeth can make it difficult to enjoy hot or cold food and can have a large impact on a patient’s day-to-day life.
  • Gum disease. Misalignment of teeth can make it easier for food particles to get stuck between teeth and can also make brushing and flossing more difficult. This can lead to an increase of bacteria in the patient’s mouth, which can lead to an increased risk of gum disease, which can lead to loose or missing teeth. It can also lead to complications with procedures such as dental implants.

A dental examination is the only proper way to diagnose any bite or alignment issues. Once diagnosed, treatment plans will be discussed. If left untreated occlusal alignment issues can lead to serious dental problems.


Book an Appointment with Burke Dental Today!

No one has to live with misaligned teeth if they don’t want to. There are options that can fix occlusal imbalances and the best way to find out which solution is the right one for you is to make an appointment for a consultation with the experts at Burke Dental. Our qualified team of dental professionals will help you decide if an occlusal guard or an occlusal adjustment is right for you and recommend the right procedure based on your individual needs.

Appointments can be booked online or by calling our office at 703-978-6000.


We are located at 9006 Fern Park Drive Ste A, Burke, VA 22015

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