When Do I Need a Mouthguard?
The very obvious response to the question is, "Why Do I Need a Mouthguard?" The answer to that also answers the first question.
In truth, the only reason for a mouthguard is to "open" an over-closed bite. Mouthguards have no other needed function. They "protect" veneers, only if the veneers are placed in an improper, traumatic bite, which is to say, to keep the teeth from hitting as they should. They cannot "cure" grinding or clenching without addressing the underlying problems.
Nor can they act to "train muscles." Muscles do not think, they respond to nerve stimulation. If the nerve instructs the muscle to contract, the muscle contracts. And the vast majority of grinding, clenching and bruxism is due to improper stimulation of the nerves that direct the chewing reflex.
Mouthguards for Sleep Apnea Therapy
I should add that, for those with severe Sleep Apnea, a mouthguard to enable breathing, or in conjunction with a CPAP, might be indicated as a last resort. But it is a medical question, not a dental one, except that if your jaw muscles are relaxed, breathing becomes easier, and the degree of apnea lessens. We can talk with you about this, as well.
What to Do If You Believe You Need a Mouthguard
If you are over-closed, if the lower half of your face is not as "full" as you believe it should be, if you have tightening in your jaw muscles, or above and in front of your ears, then we need to chat. If it appears that you might benefit from a mouthguard, we will tell you, and discuss what they do and why we would recommend one. If not, we will inform you that you are not addressing the cause of the problems, and hence are not likely to benefit. We promise to be straightforward and honest with you, with your wellbeing first and foremost.
How Mouthguards Can Cause Harm
If your bite is not over-closed, a mouthguard can be incredibly damaging, because it forces your jaw to open beyond its comfort zone. This enhances the chewing and clenching reflexes and can greatly magnify the problems. This is why so many people cannot tolerate mouthguards, complain that they are uncomfortable, or actually grind the plastic to the point of breakage (of either the appliance or the opposing teeth).
Personalized Treatment That Puts Your Comfort First
At Advanced Dental Arts NorthWest, we treat causes, not symptoms. We take very seriously our oath to "First of all, do no harm," and make certain everything is properly diagnosed from the start. No two patients, no two problems, are exactly the same. Rest assured that assuring your rest, and your comfort, are at the very top of our priorities. Always.