Considering Getting A Night Guard? Read This First

Do you grind your teeth in your sleep? Do you suffer from jaw pain or frequent headaches because of clenching your teeth? If so, the solution to these problems may be a custom night guard. Wearing a night guard for teeth grinding and jaw clenching may help prevent excessive wear on your teeth that can occur from these “habits.”

What Is A Night Guard?

Most people consider a mouthguard the soft, rubbery device used for tooth protection while playing sports and they can be purchased at a drugstore or other retail store. Night guards are custom made appliances, usually made of acrylic, that fit over your teeth to lessen clenching and grinding and prevent tooth wear. They are typically clear and since they are custom made, they will only fit one individual. This tray-like device will keep your teeth from directly coming in contact while you sleep.

Why Do You Need One?

It is extremely common for people to clench or grind their teeth, especially while they are sleeping. Over time, these behaviors can lead to flat, worn teeth, and perhaps even contribute to an unattractive smile. In many situations, it can also lead to a variety of other symptoms that affect your teeth, muscles, and temporomandibular joint. Your teeth may become sensitive to hot and cold and teeth could even become loose and or break off if weakened. The pressure of the grinding is created by the chewing muscles in your jaw, so the muscles can become sore and can give you headaches when you wake up in the morning.

Sometimes, the pressure is so extreme that it can cause the muscles to tighten up or spasm, which makes it difficult for you to chew, eat, or even speak. This can also lead to muscle tenderness, which may present itself as neck pain and headaches.  When the grinding has begun to affect the temporomandibular joint, you may experience symptoms such as clicking or popping when opening and closing your mouth.  A night guard doesn’t completely prevent you from grinding and clenching your teeth, but it does provide a barrier for your teeth to protect them from wear.

Benefits of a Custom Night Guard

There are several benefits that come with wearing a night guard. The primary purpose is to decrease the force and pressure of clenching and grinding your teeth. It’s important to note that store bought mouthguards and custom fit night guards work much differently. Many of the over-the-counter mouthguards usually protect your teeth from grinding, but they generally don’t help to decrease the force on the muscles and joints.  In fact, most store bought mouthguards are soft and rubbery and this can actually stimulate you to clench or grind even more.

 A custom made night guard will be fitted to your teeth, which helps guide the bite position and movement of your lower jaw.  This can significantly decrease the amount of force being generated and can ultimately reduce headaches, relax jaw muscles, and provide more protection for your teeth. 

Preventing Teeth Clenching During the Day

Clenching of the teeth (bruxism) may be associated with a wide range of causes, such as intense emotions like anger and stress. If you experience teeth clenching both at night and during the day, along with wearing a night guard, there are a few things you can do during the daytime to help lessen the clenching and grinding. For instance, using relaxation techniques when you are stressed, angry, or before bedtime may help to reduce the clenching. You should also consider limiting consumption of alcohol and caffeine, as they may play a role in grinding and clenching.

Is a Night Guard Uncomfortable?

Keep in mind that it’ll take a little time to get used to wearing a night guard.  Regardless of how uncomfortable it may seem at first, it’s important to wear the night guard every night.  Your orthodontist may even suggest you wear it during the day in certain instances.   It typically takes a couple of weeks to get used to wearing your night guard.  

If a poor bite is thought to be at least part of the cause of your clenching and grinding, your orthodontist may recommend an orthodontic plan to help fix your bite. Either way, it’s important to keep your natural teeth as strong and healthy as possible. Contact the experts at Melbourne Orthodontics today to see how a custom night guard or orthodontic plan may be right for your smile.