How Is a Dental Night Guard Made?

It is well known that a smile is an important asset in life, yet it is often taken for granted. Whether you’re sporting all-natural teeth when you smile, or have cosmetically enhanced your teeth in one way or the other, a dental night guard may be the solution you need to protect your teeth.

A dental night guard is a device that is normally considered to be the first-line treatment for teeth grinding (bruxism). Often known as an occlusal guard, the dental night guard might cover just one row of teeth, or both rows depending on one’s requirements.

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Generally, a night guard is recommended to be worn on one tooth arch only (not both). The best night guard type is custom fitted to help reduce the clenching and grinding during the night. It is worn at night to prevent potential tooth damage caused by the grinding or clenching.

The action of grinding or clenching teeth at night is considered a sleep disorder. The effects of stress, one’s irregular bite, medications, stimulants, or other issues may be the cause.

Wearing a night guard will significantly reduce the effects of continuous grinding & clenching by creating a barrier between the chewing surfaces of the teeth, preventing direct tooth on tooth contact.

How Are Dental Night Guards Made?

Here is the process behind custom night guard creation

Step 1: Impression Taking

This is a critical step to guarantee an excellent end-result. A negative copy of the lower and/or upper teeth is taken in order to create a stone cast from it.

The impression gels have viscosities that capture the softness and hardness of the tissues. This cast or mold is used in a dental laboratory to create the custom dental night guard.

In a dental office, most often a type of alginate is used to take your dental impression. The powdery alginate is mixed with water. You may remember seeing this sticky mixture if you have ever had your dental impression taken in a dental office setting.

The impression material you receive when you order online is not messy like alginate, but gives the same, clear results.

It is similar to play-doh in texture and mixes together easily with no residue. Making your own dental impression is easy. Mix the two putties together, and roll them into a hotdog-like shape.

Place the putty in the tray and submerge all the whites of your teeth. Hold very still, and the putty will begin to harden. Then, simply remove the tray when the putty has completely hardened.

Step 2: Making of the Mold

Once the impression has been taken, it is time to pour up the stone cast of the teeth. 

Here you may begin to understand why the impression taking process is so important. A stone replica of your teeth should capture all of your unique dental anatomy. It should be a perfect cast of your exact teeth. The gum margin should be visible too.

The lab technician mixes a powdery dental stone and water together to create a thick, soupy mixture. The stone is then laid carefully into the teeth impression. It’s stacked high to create a nice base, and the weight of the stone disrupts any bubbles that may have formed in the teeth area.

Now we wait for the stone to harden. Hardening times differ (on average, it’s about a 20-minute wait time). The stone will become hot, then cools down.

After the model is dry and hard, we carefully remove the stone from the dental impression.

It is always necessary to trim the excess stone material. This prep work is to ensure that the night guard is as accurate as possible.

It is imperative not to skip steps. We make sure the back of the stone cast lays completely flat, so that the night guard material can distribute evenly across the surfaces of the teeth.

When the model is trimmed and dried, it is then sprayed with a lubricant so that the night guard material separates easily from the stone mold later on.

Step 3: Fabrication

Now that the model is ready for fabrication, the process to follow is a method of lamination by thermopressure.

Next, a special computerized machine that combines high heat and pressure is used. In this process, the trimmed model and night guard sheet is placed under a heating element to soften the night guard material. A timer is set, and the mold is ready to be thermoformed and pressurized.

After this process, the mold is left to cool down before a second trimming takes place. A skilled technician uses multiple burs, cutting wheels, and a bit of artistry to create a well-fitted custom appliance.

Step 4: Delivery

When the dental guard is finished, it is delivered to the customer to try on and check for fit and comfort. The guard should be stable and not cause any kind of pain or discomfort.

Some tightness may be felt initially, but should ease after a few days of consistent use. A retainer case is also provided to keep it in when not in use.

Protecting Your Teeth

Why it’s important

Teeth grinding or bruxism can greatly weaken the teeth. It can cause teeth chipping/breakage and high sensitivity. If it’s left untreated, not only the health of the teeth and jaw can be compromised, but your overall health and lifestyle can change.

How it works

A professionally made dental night guard can relieve the pain and discomfort caused by teeth grinding and jaw clenching, plus protect teeth from further damage (weakening, breakage, flattening).

The night guard keeps teeth from making direct contact with one another, which helps avoid the effects of teeth grinding and jaw clenching.

Conclusion

Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is a serious condition that can lead to a number of problems; jaw disorders, jaw pain, earaches, and persistent headaches, to name a few. This condition affects people from all ages, and the generally identified causes can be physical, psychological – or both.

Factors that cause bruxism include:

  • Emotions, like stress, frustration, anger, or anxiety
  • Personality, either hyperactive, competitive or aggressive
  • Malocclusion which is the abnormal alignment of the teeth
  • Sleep problems
  • Acid reflux
  • Response to pain
  • Complications from certain disorders
  • Genetics

A person with bruxism requires treatment.

An immediate solution to preventing dental damage and health problems this condition causes is the use of a custom night guard.

As opposed to the over-the-counter mouth guards, a professionally made dental guard will fit the patient’s mouth to the tiniest detail, protecting teeth and the jaw from additional pain and damage during sleep.

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