A biteguard is made of plastic and snaps onto the teeth (in this photo the upper teeth). It is the treatment of choice for excessive tooth wear, pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), pain in the jaw muscles, or pain in the teeth caused by grinding or clenching. The biteguard is usually worn while sleeping because grinding is most common during sleep. It may also be worn during the day if grinding or clenching are daytime habits.
Why does a biteguard work?
1) It limits wear and tear of the teeth. Even if you grind and wear out the biteguard it is better to wear out the plastic that can be replaced rather than your own teeth. When you grind or clench in your sleep the pressure on the teeth is many times greater than normal chewing forces when eating.
2) The biteguard keeps the teeth apart or open a few millimeters when compared to the natural bite without the biteguard. This slightly-open position stretches the jaw muscles to a weaker position, so even if you continue to grind or clench is done with lower forces. These weaker forces are will reduce or eliminate pain in the jaws and teeth.
3) A biteguard is flat. The lower teeth will skate smoothly along the biteguard. This also reduces the force of any grinding when compared to grinding on the teeth that interlock. Teeth without a biteguard that fully interlock suffer during grinding due to side-to-side forces on the teeth. Grinding on the smooth surface of the biteguard eliminates these damaging side-to-side forces.
Limiting the forces of grinding and clenching will provide relief to painful teeth, jaw muscles, and joints.