Woman holding a Night Guard
Occlusal Night Guards

Custom nightguards are an easy-to-wear way to ease TMJ symptoms and prevent damage caused by teeth grinding

Led by Drs Mike Molosky and Emily Molosky, the Liberty Dental Group team gets to know individuals and families from Brentwood, California, and the surrounding region, including Oakley, Antioch, Sandhill, Bridgehead, Discovery Bay, and Bethel Island. Strong partnerships are essential; we stay on top of any changes to our patients’ medical status and lives, which can adversely affect the health of their teeth, gums, and mouth. 

Regular visits to our practice further support proactive care. During dental check-ups, we may find that you can benefit from a type of oral appliance, which falls under the category of “occlusal nightguards.” 

Candidates for occlusal nightguards

“Occlusal” is in reference to “occlusion.” In dentistry, occlusion alludes to the contact that is made between the upper and lower teeth as you bite down and chew or otherwise “use” your teeth and when your mouth is closed or at rest. To facilitate healthy function and smooth movements requires an entire system of oral tissues and structures that work together in harmony. That includes the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) that connect the jaws to the skull. They behave like a “hinge” to enable comfortable and efficient movements when you open and close your mouth. 

A range of behaviors, disorders and developmental issues associated with how patients’ teeth and jaws are aligned can “stress” the TMJs. When this occurs, a variety of disruptive or debilitating symptoms can arise. These symptoms include: 

  • Facial and jaw pain
  • Radiating neck, shoulder, and back pain 
  • Chronic headaches or migraines
  • Frequent earaches
  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
  • Jaw stiffness and limited mobility 
  • “Noisy” jaw; a noticeable popping or clicking sound when opening and closing the mouth

Bruxism or chronic teeth grinding is also associated with TMJ symptoms. During regular appointments, your dentist may notice telltale signs of bruxism. These signs include extensive wear and tear of teeth enamel, as well as premature damage to dental fillings, crowns, and other restorations. Patients may also complain of headaches and some of the other symptoms noted above. It is thought that the extreme pressure placed on the teeth when grinding or clenching the jaws during sleep also stresses the joints and the interconnected system of muscles and bone. In fact, it’s estimated that those who “brux” place 200 to 300 pounds of pressure on the teeth and tissues from biting forces – or, put another way, that’s sufficient enough force to crack a walnut!

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