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Glossary

Many of our services are defined here in alphabetical order to aid in understanding.
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B

Term Definition
Bite Guard (aka Night Guard, Appliance)

There are many circumstances and conditions that greatly benefit from the use of an occusal splint appliance. Splints (commonly known as bite guards or night guards) are a thin, hard acrylic appliance that covers the biting surface of either the upper or lower arch of teeth. They are typically worn every night during sleep or as needed to provide comfort. Splints are useful for a variety of treatment goals and diagnosis. Night time bruxism (grinding) is a common condition experienced by many. This grinding and clenching can wear down teeth, crack teeth, chip front teeth, cause mobility, and inflammation sensitivity around the ligaments supporting teeth. Splints are adjusted to an ideal biting contact with the opposing arch of teeth that correlates with the natural position of the TMJ joint and biting muscles. This comfortable position reduces stress on the joint and relieves tension by relaxing the muscles of mastication (chewing) in the face, jaws, neck and head. In addition to preventing destruction of tooth structure, splints can reduce symptoms of many TMJ disorders and myofacial pain caused by bite disease and misalignment of the teeth in relation to the correct and natural position of the jaw and joint. The splint is for this reason often used prior to major dental restorative dental procedure to establish the correct position of the jaws to determine ideal tooth position. There are many "bite guards” available in drug stores and on the internet- in fact some people even try using mouth guards sold in sporting goods stores. Beware, all of these over-the-counter products, while protecting the teeth from contact, pose a significant risk to the joints and muscles. While they may fit snug to the teeth they are not made to specifically adjust to the patients bite. If you think you are having signs or symptoms that may indicate a guard, do yourself a favor and consider a proven professionally made splint.

Dr. Kelly does not simply suggest to patient’s that, “You need a night guard because you grind your teeth”. Most dentists do this, it is appropriate in some cases, but simply making a plastic shell to cover the teeth and sending a patient home with it limits many of the primary objectives and uses of this appliance. Most dentists, 90% use orthotic appliances this way and another 5% do not use them at all. Around 5% use them to their fullest potential, as Dr. Kelly does. Most often when Dr. Kelly fabricates a splint appliance for his patients they are entering an active therapy, not just being guarded. He spends the time necessary over multiple appointments defining the bite relationship with the appliance until a comfortable ideal jaw position is found. This process leads to his successful ability to relieve pain and discomfort and diagnose the underlying problem, often leading to addressing the issue as it relates to the teeth.

Bridges

Bridges are very similar to crowns except that they are used to replace missing teeth. They attach to teeth on either side of a space to span the gap of missing teeth. Bridges are permanently cemented and not removed from the mouth after insertion. Like crowns, bridges can restore natural beauty and the function of your smile.

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