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What Is a Dental Bite Plate?

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Close-up of a man's mouth placing a bite plate to protect his teeth.

Maintaining optimal oral health is essential for a healthy smile and overall well-being. Sometimes, even with the best preventive plan, your oral health needs a helping hand. 

A dental bite plate is a removable dental appliance primarily used to protect the teeth and jaw from teeth grinding or clenching.

What Are Dental Bite Plates Used For?

A dental bite plate, also known as a night guard, is a custom-made, removable dental appliance that fits over the teeth to protect them from grinding and clenching (bruxism). A dental bite plate acts as a cushion between your upper and lower teeth, preventing them from coming into direct contact with each other and helping alleviate damage to your teeth and jaw joints caused by excessive force.

Dental bite plates are typically made using lightweight and durable materials and are designed to fit the unique contours of your teeth. You will likely wear it overnight or during periods of high stress.

Your dentist will conduct a thorough examination and diagnose the severity of your bruxism before recommending a dental bite plate. 

What Is Bruxism?

Bruxism is a condition characterized by excessive teeth grinding or jaw clenching, often involuntarily. It can occur during the day or while sleeping and may lead to various dental issues.

Stress, anxiety, misaligned teeth, or other dental issues can contribute to bruxism. Sometimes, it happens without an identifiable cause. 

Preventing bruxism is important for several reasons: 

  • Dental damage: Bruxism can cause significant damage to teeth, including wearing down the enamel, fractures, or tooth loss, leading to additional dental procedures like crowns, implants, or bridges.
  • Jaw pain and dysfunction: Constant clenching or grinding can lead to jaw pain, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, and difficulty opening or closing the mouth.
  • Headaches and facial pain: The strain on the jaw muscles can result in headaches, facial pain, or earaches.
  • Sleep disturbance: Those who grind their teeth during sleep can experience poor sleep quality for themselves and their sleep partners, causing tiredness and irritability during the day.
  • Quality of life: Chronic bruxism can significantly impact your quality of life due to the pain, discomfort, and dental issues it causes. 

How Do Dental Bite Plates Work?

Dental bite plates provide cushioning between the upper and lower teeth, reducing friction and pressure caused by clenching and grinding. They also help relax your jaw muscles, encouraging proper alignment and reducing strain. 

Dental bite plates can help prevent tooth damage, alleviate dental pain, and improve sleep quality.

Dental Bite Plates vs. Mouth Guards

While both dental bite plates and mouthguards protect the teeth, bite plates are specifically tailored to address issues related to teeth grinding or jaw alignment. 

Mouthguards are more commonly associated with protection during sports or physical activities, shielding the teeth from impact and injury. 

The design and function of dental bite plates are more focused on dental health, alleviating dental pain, and preventing tooth damage caused by grinding.

Caring for Your Dental Bite Plate

To maximize the lifespan of your dental bite plate, it is essential to practice proper care

  • After each use, rinse the bite plate with water and brush gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush and mild soap. 
  • Avoid using hot water or toothpaste, as this can damage the material. 
  • Keep the bite plate in a clean, dry case when not in use
  • Avoid exposing it to high temperatures or direct sunlight.
  • Bring it with you to your regularly scheduled visit to have the appliance exam for proper fit.
A man in an dentist's office shaking hands with his dentist.

An Easy & Effective Solution for Bruxism

With proper care, your dental bite plate can be a long-lasting and valuable addition to your oral health routine. 

If you are experiencing dental pain or discomfort caused by bruxism, we recommend visiting your dentist at Marks Dentistry. They can help diagnose your condition and recommend the best treatment options, which may include a dental bite plate.Schedule an appointment for an exam–we’ll work with you to help keep your smile healthy and strong for years to come!

Written by Dr. Jonah Marks

Dr. Jonah Marks received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the Schulich School of Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario. During his time at Schulich, Dr. Marks volunteered at Schulich’s Dental Outreach Community Services, providing pro bono dental treatment to underprivileged patients in London, Ontario. He currently provides pro bono work for LAMP Community Health Care Centre and the Alpha Omega Dental Volunteer Program. In addition, Dr. Marks travelled to Nicaragua where he provided dental care in underserved communities.

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