What is a Bite Guard?

Bite Guards, sometimes called Occlusal Guards, Night Guards or Bite Splints are designed for different purposes, depending on individual needs.  Some people have headaches and migraines, others have jaw (TMJ) pain.  Yet others have muscle pain in their muscles of chewing.  Quite a few people have moderate to advanced wear on their teeth, getting flatter everyday.  Other people notice their gums are receding more, causing longer looking teeth and sensitivity by their gumline.  Other people have shifting and crowded teeth due to pressure caused by grinding.  Grinding and clenching can also cause your teeth to be more overall more sensitive.  Periodontal disease causes loss of bone around teeth, and can make loosening of teeth a problem if grinding is happening.  Dr. Geisler, a dentist in Plymouth, MN, has advanced  education after dental school in diagnosing temporal-mandibular disorders (TMD) and treatment.  A thorough exam is done to diagnose the problem before recommendations are made

Let’s discuss a commonly made guard at Life Smiles, The NTI-tss appliance, which is custom fitted to either the lower or upper front teeth.  A NTI works by not allowing the back teeth to touch.  Ours bodies protect our front teeth from breaking by reducing the forces on them.  Once our teeth cannot touch in the back, they cannot feel where their preferred bite is.  The good news is this allows muscles to relax.  One muscle, the lateral pterygoid, often refers pain over the TMJ or over the maxillary sinuses (under your eyes).  The other muscle that relaxes is one you know of, the temporalis.  Imagine massaging your temporalis, but having no pain!


The FDA has approved this splint to be effective at reducing migraines.  The fancy name stands for Nociceptive Trigeminal Inhibition Tension Suppression System. The NTI can be fitted in one visit (about 30 minutes long) without the need to take full impressions (molds) of the teeth.  You can start wearing your new splint tonight and feel better in the morning!

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