Night Guards

Night Guards

A night guard offered at Woodard Family Dentistry, also known as an occlusal guard or bite splint, is a dental appliance designed to protect your teeth from the harmful effects of bruxism, which is the medical term for teeth grinding and clenching. Bruxism can occur during the day, but it is most common at night while you sleep. This involuntary habit can lead to various dental problems, including tooth wear, jaw pain, headaches, and even temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.

Causes of Bruxism

Bruxism can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Stress and anxiety: High levels of stress and anxiety are common triggers for teeth grinding and clenching. Many people unconsciously grind their teeth as a way to cope with stress.
  • Sleep disorders: Conditions such as sleep apnea and snoring are often associated with bruxism. These sleep disorders can disrupt your sleep patterns and lead to nighttime teeth grinding.
  • Malocclusion: Misaligned teeth or an improper bite can cause your jaw to work harder to find a comfortable position, leading to bruxism.
  • Medications: Certain medications, including some antidepressants and antipsychotics, can increase the likelihood of bruxism as a side effect.
  • Lifestyle factors: Excessive consumption of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco can contribute to teeth grinding.

Symptoms of Bruxism

Bruxism can cause a range of symptoms, including:

  • Tooth sensitivity: Grinding can wear down the enamel, leading to increased sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweet foods and beverages.
  • Jaw pain: Persistent grinding can strain the jaw muscles, resulting in pain and discomfort.
  • Headaches: Many people with bruxism experience frequent headaches, particularly in the morning.
  • Ear pain: The pressure from grinding can radiate to the ears, causing pain and discomfort.
  • Worn teeth: Chronic grinding can wear down teeth, making them shorter and altering their appearance.
  • Cracked or chipped teeth: Excessive force from grinding can cause teeth to crack or chip, leading to further dental issues.

The Importance of Night Guards

Night guards play a crucial role in protecting your teeth and jaw from the detrimental effects of bruxism. Here are some key benefits of using a night guard:

Prevents Tooth Damage

By providing a protective barrier between your upper and lower teeth, night guards help prevent the wear and tear caused by grinding and clenching. This can save you from costly dental repairs in the future.

Reduces Jaw Pain

Night guards help alleviate the pressure on your jaw muscles, reducing pain and discomfort associated with bruxism.

Minimizes Headaches

By reducing the strain on your jaw and surrounding muscles, night guards can help decrease the frequency and intensity of headaches.

Protects Dental Work

If you have dental restorations such as crowns, bridges, or veneers, a night guard can help protect these investments from damage caused by grinding.

Improves Sleep Quality

By addressing the underlying cause of bruxism, night guards can help improve your overall sleep quality, leading to better rest and overall health. Call us to learn more.

Types of Night Guards

At Woodard Family Dentistry, we can provide custom-made night guards that are tailored to fit your mouth comfortably and effectively. There are different types of night guards available, including:

  • Soft night guards: These are made from a flexible, rubber-like material and are suitable for mild bruxism cases. They provide a comfortable fit and are easy to adapt to.
  • Hard night guards: Made from a more rigid acrylic material, hard night guards are designed for severe bruxism cases. They provide durable protection and are often recommended for those with significant teeth grinding and clenching issues.
  • Dual laminate night guards: These night guards combine the best of both worlds with a soft interior for comfort and a hard exterior for durability. They are suitable for moderate to severe bruxism cases. 

The Process of Getting a Night Guard

Getting a custom night guard at Woodard Family Dentistry involves a straightforward and painless process:


During your initial visit, Dr. Woodard will evaluate your dental health, discuss your symptoms, and determine if a night guard is the right solution for you.


If a night guard is recommended, we will take impressions of your teeth to create a precise model of your mouth. This ensures that your night guard will fit perfectly.


The impressions are sent to a dental laboratory where your custom night guard is fabricated using high-quality materials. This process typically takes a few weeks.


Once your night guard is ready, you will return to our office for a fitting appointment. Dr. Woodard will ensure that the night guard fits comfortably and makes any necessary adjustments.


Regular follow-up appointments may be scheduled to monitor your progress and make any needed adjustments to ensure continued comfort and effectiveness.

Caring for Your Night Guard

Proper care and maintenance of your night guard are essential to ensure its longevity and effectiveness. Here are some tips for taking care of your night guard:

  • Clean daily: Rinse your night guard with lukewarm water after each use. Brush it gently with a soft toothbrush and nonabrasive toothpaste to remove any buildup.
  • Store properly: Store your night guard in a ventilated case when not in use. Avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight, as this can cause it to warp.
  • Regularly inspect it: Check your night guard regularly for signs of wear and tear. If you notice any damage or if it no longer fits properly, contact Woodard Family Dentistry for a replacement.
  • Professional cleanings: Bring your night guard to your regular dental checkups for professional cleaning and inspection.

Night Guards for Children

Bruxism is not limited to adults; children can also experience teeth grinding and clenching. At Woodard Family Dentistry, we provide night guards for children who exhibit signs of bruxism. Pediatric night guards are specially designed to accommodate growing mouths and provide the necessary protection without hindering dental development.


At Woodard Family Dentistry in Spokane Valley, WA, we are committed to helping you protect your smile and maintain optimal oral health. Custom night guards are an effective solution for managing bruxism and preventing the associated dental problems. Under the expert care of Dr. Christopher S. Woodard, DMD, you can achieve a comfortable and healthy smile. If you suspect you have bruxism or are experiencing symptoms, contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards a healthier, more protected smile.

Are you ready to experience top-quality dental care for your entire family? Visit Dr. Christopher S. Woodard, DMD, at Woodard Family Dentistry, conveniently located at 1020 S Pines Rd, Spokane Valley, WA 99206. Don't wait any longer to take care of your oral health. Call us today at (509) 924-8585 to schedule your appointment or to learn more about our comprehensive dental services.

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