Warning about night guard

The night guard in comparison to a teaspoon. It is three centimeters wide.

A Silverglade mother, whose daughter had a terrifying experience after swallowing her night guard, wants to warn other parents of the potential dangers of such guards.

Night guards, prescribed by dentists, protects the teeth by reducing friction during teeth grinding and in some cases relieves other underlying symptoms such as migraines, caused by the grinding.

What should have been a relaxing weekend for the Mannings on Friday January 18 turned in to a mad rush from one doctor to the other after 11-year-old Hannah swallowed her night guard earlier that day.

Her mother, Venessa said she complained about a sore throat and informed them that she had swallowed it.

The night guard was prescribed to her about six months ago by Dr Liezl Claassens from Bergvliet Dental and Medical Centre after she complained about severe headaches caused by the grinding.

And during that time, Ms Manning said the guard came loose several times at night.

“I did have my doubts about the guard as it was very small and came loose as soon as she touched it with her tongue,” Ms Manning said.

What followed was a frantic call to a local dentist, who Hannah had consulted before, to find out if the guard could cause serious damage and if it should be removed.

She was told it had to be removed as soon as possible as it could cause an obstruction.

She immediately called her house doctor who organised an X-ray which clearly showed the guard in her stomach.

He organised an appointment for Hannah with a paediatric surgeon at Kingsbury Hospital but after the consultation, the doctor decided not to remove the guard as Hannah had breakfast that morning and had also taken some antibiotics for a sinus infection and asthma which could have caused problems during anaesthesia.

She was given a laxative and was asked to return the following day to have another X-ray done to see if the guard had passed. But despite the laxatives, an X-ray showed the bite guard still floating in her stomach and she had to undergo a gastroscopy at Constantiaberg Mediclinic.

A gastroscopy is an examination of the upper digestive tract (the oesophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine) using an endoscope, a long, thin, flexible tube containing a camera and a light, to view the lining of the organs.

Ms Manning said the procedure was very traumatic for Hannah and she was kicking and screaming in theatre. “We had to hold her down and she begged us not to do it. I had to calm her down,” Ms Manning said.

She added that it was a difficult procedure and took 45 minutes as the doctor struggled to get a good grip on the guard.

It took Hannah a few days to recover from the procedure. “Her throat was very sore and she complained that her stomach was hurting too,”Ms Manning said.

Ms Manning said she had notified
Dr Claassens of the ordeal.

“She was very considerate and called me to find out how Hannah was doing,” Ms Manning said.

Dr Claassens said she has never experienced anything like this in the 14 years she has been in practice. She explained that the small night guard in question is usually prescribed to patients suffering from headaches and migraines as it relieves muscle pressure from the back of the jaw by shifting the pressure from the bite to the anterior.

She said she immediately informed the manufacturing laboratory of what had happened and will consider prescribing the guard in question to older children.

Ms Manning said she doesn’t blame Dr Claassens for what happened as dental laboratories give dentists two options to choose from, the small guard such as Hannah’s or a full mouth guard.

“The small guard is the cheaper option, and patients are given the option to choose.

“Even the paediatric surgeon agreed that the small guard seems unsafe for children,” she said.