When you grind your teeth during sleep, several things can occur. Repeated grinding over long periods of time will wear away the chewing surface of your molars, making them flat and smooth. The mounds and tips atop each molar are an important aid in the chewing process, breaking down fibers and allowing the digestive juices to work their way inside the food. This is actually the first step in the digestive process.
Grinding your teeth can also cause them to slide from side to side. Without the ridges in place that allow your teeth to fit comfortably together, your jaws can easily shift putting stress on your temporomandibular joint. Eventually, this can damage the joint causing chronic pain and discomfort.
Mouth guards are often required for certain sports simply because many sports involve blows to the head or the face that cause the teeth to be forced together. When a mouthguard is worn, it prevents your jaws from slamming together and keeps the teeth from breaking or chipping. The mouth guard also cushions the blow, absorbing the shock and reducing the impact on the rest of your face.
If your child visits Dr. Gundersen to be fitted for a mouth guard, he will make one that is customized to their needs and is approved for the sport in question. Dr. Gundersen will make sure the appliance fits correctly and offers the desired amount of protection needed to prevent damage to the teeth.
Most mouth guards are designed to last approximately two years. If the guard is to be used by an adolescent who is still growing, it may need to be replaced more often. Changes in the structure of your child's mouth will alter how the mouth guard fits, causing it to not function as well as it should. As soon as these changes are noticed, the mouth guard should be replaced.
Night guards that are used on a regular basis will begin to lose their shape or their resiliency over time. Dr. Gundersen will evaluate the fit of your mouthguard at each checkup to determine whether or not a new one needs to be made. Much like with sports guards, if you begin to notice changes in how your appliance fits, Dr. Gundersen should be notified so a new one can be made.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!