Your New Bite Appliance

Today we have customized an appliance which is used as both a diagnostic tool and therapeutic treatment. There are many names for the appliance (night guard, bite guard, orthotic, “Mandibular Repositioning Appliance” (MRA), bite splint and others). It allows us an opportunity to learn what is causing your symptoms. We are learning together what helps and what doesn’t help. Usually, we are able to learn what we need to within the first 30 days of treatment. Accurate diagnosis is the most important thing I can give you as it relates to your particular set of signs and symptoms.

There are some things you should know about your appliance:

  • The goal is to wear the appliance comfortably at night while you sleep.
    • Approximately 90% of the “bad” things that happen occur at night.
    • Studies indicate periods of wearing the appliance relaxes the muscles and that effect lingers about a day; thus, wearing at night helps 90% of people.
  • It takes most people several days to get used to having the appliance in their mouth.
    • Start wearing the appliance ½ to 1 hour at a time 2-3 times a day for a couple of days.
    • Build up time until you can wear the appliance up to 3 hours before you go to bed (It is a great way to stop snacking and lose weight!).
    • Then wear it at night.
  • If it is uncomfortable, please feel free to take it out. It most likely requires an adjustment, so please call the office.
  • Many people believe their teeth “shift” after wearing the appliance. The teeth don’t move, but after several continuous hours of wearing your appliance your muscles, jaw joint and lower jaw will be in a relaxed, but different position. Accordingly, expect your natural teeth to not “fit” quite right for about ½-1 hour immediately after you take your appliance out. This is normal.
  • You may eat with your appliance in your mouth if you are in pain and need to have it in at all times. We however, normally recommend patients remove it while eating.
  • If your appliance feels loose or “squishy” your muscles will not be able to relax, so please call so we can schedule you to correct this.
  • It is very important that you keep your scheduled appointments so we can progressively learn what is happening.
  • There is no magic to an appliance, but it can lead us to discover some very important diagnostic information, or give you needed help. I am here to answer any questions you may have, just call.

How to care for your appliance:

  • Hold the appliance between thumb and fingers of one hand, by one end only. Holding it at both ends (and accidentally squeezing too hard) can lead to fracture from stresses totally unrelated to your bite.
  • Rinse and let it air dry after wearing it overnight.
  • Brush well the inner and outer surface of the appliance with toothbrush and toothpaste or mouthwash. Be sure to rinse the appliance completely to remove any toothpaste film or particles of paste.
  • It is always smart to place the appliance in its plastic case if not wearing it. The case provides lots of protection from accidents, children or pets.
  • Keep the appliance well away from pets, especially dogs. Dogs find it an irresistible chewy treat!
  • In time, we will provide you with a home recipe for a solution to soak it in to reduce surface staining. Over the years, the acrylic will naturally darken very gradually.
  • Many patients have had their appliance for 10-15 years with minor changes needed. The appliance can serve you very well with just minimal home care.
  • If the appliance does fracture, save the sections and call us. It really is rather easily repairable most of the time.

Bring the appliance with you every time you come to see the hygienist and we will place it in an ultrasonic cleaner.

What to report at your next visit:

  • Any irritating areas against your gums.
  • Any obvious changes in how your teeth fit when biting into the appliance. You do not have to search for these differences. Let them find you if they stand out.
  • Any changes in your awareness of clenching or grinding activities.
  • Any changes in your comfort related to muscle tension, pain, headaches, jaw join pain or jaw noises.
  • What you are thinking and feeling about wearing the appliance and what you are learning about your teeth, how they fit, and what you are doing with your teeth
  • Keep your sense of humor. Over the past twenty years, we have heard all the stories about appliances being taken by a bird while it was on the picnic table, flushed down the toilet by the kids, run over by a car (spouse), broken while testing how strong it was, and eaten and stolen by all sorts of various species.