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The Skinny on Adjustments

5 min read
by Angela Sartain |

One of the most common issues we see from our customers is when a guard needs an adjustment. Across the years, we’ve had a number of questions from our customers about what adjustments are, how they work, and why they may be needed. We’ve finally decided to give you the skinny on what adjustments are. 

You place your order, make your impression, get your guard and it just isn’t fitting quite right. Maybe it’s a bit too tight, too loose, or it otherwise just doesn’t feel like it’s going to be comfortable for you to wear. What do you do?

    The Adjustment Process: 

    After you send us an email, text, or mobile app request letting us know that your guard isn’t fitting perfectly, we’ll ask you a few questions. We’ll want to know a bit more about the issues you’re experiencing. We get your order number and may even request some photos so we can take a look to eliminate as many possible causes. 

    You may need to remake your impression or make an opposing impression, but eventually, you’ll pack up your guard and ship it back to our lab. Once it arrives, a lab technician takes a close look at your impression, your guard, and the information you’ve provided on your order form. The more detailed you are, the better as it helps the technician to know what type of issues to address. 

    Adjustments are common and they are something our lab performs every day. The processes themselves do not require a great deal of time, but our technicians do spend a significant amount of time evaluating and assessing the issues you describe with your guard. 

    In the same fashion that no two guards are alike as they are hand fabricated by our technicians, no two adjustments are the same. However, we do see a few more common issues that can warrant sending your guard back to us for an adjustment.  

    When the source of discomfort derives from the guard being too tight or too loose, the technician can use a specifically designed, thermo process to address the issue. This process involves using the original teeth mold that was poured from your impression. By activating this process, the guard material can be properly stretched or tightened to get a better fit. If the guard is too tight, the lab will work to loosen the fit. When the guard is too loose, we’ll work the other way and try to create a more secure fit for the guard. (Please note we do not recommend trying to adjust your guard yourself.)

    Common reasons for adjustments

    When the issue is that the guard is rocking or making uneven contact, there are typically a few causes.

    1. It could be that the impression itself was imbalanced, leading to the teeth model being slightly different from your actual mouth. 
    2. There could be a bite alignment issue. A bite alignment issue is actually one of the most common things that we see. You may have perfectly straight teeth, however, if your top and bottom teeth do not meet evenly this can cause the guard to be shifted up and down based on these areas. 

    In these cases, we recommend an upgrade to our 3D guard, which has a bit more customization. You can read more about our 3D guard here

    When the lab suggests the upgrade or 3D adjustment, it is typically to help them have a better understanding of how your teeth meet in their natural bite. By viewing this, they can assess and address any areas where the bite creates an imbalance or uneven contact situation for your guard. By using the upper and lower impressions, the lab can experiment with mimicking the movements of the jaw to help understand your individual articulation. These adjustments provide a better understanding of your overall bite rather than focusing simply on providing a dental appliance to act as a barrier between your teeth. 

    Other issues, such as the material being a bit too high, or causing irritation, the technician can address by trimming and polishing the guard.

    So why can a night guard need more than one adjustment?

    The simplest explanation here is that the process is done entirely by hand. Unlike an automated process where a machine has specific calculations and measurements, adjustments are completed using the evaluation and estimation of our lab technicians.

    Another major contribution comes from the individual experiences of each person. The varying levels of sensitivity and discomfort for issues that might be present from wearing a guard are not constant. The technicians have made enough adjustments to have a general understanding of how tight or loose a guard should feel, however, your personal experiences contribute a great deal to the comfort of the guard. 

    The lab technicians take great pride in fully assessing the issues that you might be experiencing with your guard. In some cases, they may request photos of your natural bite. These photos help the lab to get a clear idea of how your teeth are meeting, so they can manipulate the molds using hand articulation to recreate the pressure or uneven contact issues that have been reported. 

    Okay, but I was told that my impression looked okay in the photo? Why does my guard still need to be adjusted?

    The first reason, and probably the most common, is because there are minor imperfections that can exist in an impression that isn’t visible to the eye. Issues such as slanting between the teeth or improper capture can create distortions in the teeth mold once they are poured and examined. These distortions may not be visible looking at the impression, but your guard can most definitely feel “off” if such distortions are present. 

    The lab can typically detect these distortions only once the plaster mold is poured and hardened. 

    Another reason is the nature of both the guard fabrication and the adjustment processes. Since these processes are done by hand, the margin for human error can play a factor in why you may have had a great impression, but the guard is a bit too tight or too loose. While automation of such a process would definitely increase the number of guards we could produce, the quality and hand-craftmanship of our products would be lost. 

    The second reason is due to the individuality of your bite and sensitivity to the pressure of a guard. Just like a fingerprint, your dental activity is unique to you. The way your jaw bones are shaped, the depth and sensitivity of your gums, your dental history, personal care, clenching, grinding, or other dental related issues all create a unique profile. 

    Our labs use every method possible to get the clearest picture of your individual bite. This is why we ask you to be as detailed as possible when explaining the issues you are experiencing with your guard. In some cases, an opposing impression or photos of your bite may be requested in order to help clarify the areas of concern and provide possible solutions to resolving the issues. 

    Rest assured that here at JS Dental Lab, we take our guarantee very seriously. We will adjust the guard as many times as needed in order to obtain the fit you need. If new impressions need to be made, or if an opposing impression will help to create a more customized and comfortable feel for your guard, we’re here to help every step of the way. We’ll cover the shipping of the materials and guard both ways every time. In some special cases, we’ve even upgraded a customer to a 3D Premium guard at no additional cost simply because we know that this is the best way to ensure the guard fits well. 

    So if your guard feels a little off, please send us a text, a mobile app request, an email, we’ll even reply to a carrier pigeon if that’s what it takes! We’ll work with you to make sure that you have a guard that you’re happy with or your money back! 

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