Do you have a habit of clenching or grinding your teeth? Do you experience regular headaches and jaw pain? Do your teeth and mouth hurt when you eat or drink something hot? If so, you may be suffering from a condition called bruxism.
What is bruxism?
You may have bruxism if you excessively grind, clench, or gnash your teeth, either when you are asleep or unconsciously when you are awake. This condition can lead to greater health problems, such as jaw pain, TMJ disorder, sleep apnea, enamel loss, and tooth pain and sensitivity.
The most common cause of bruxism is stress, but certain medications and particular personality types may encourage the condition as well. Although you can work to stop these underlying causes of bruxism, doing so can be a long and challenging process. In the meantime, it is important for you to use a nightguard to reduce your bruxism symptoms and prevent further oral health problems.
What is a nightguard?
A nightguard is a piece of plastic similar to a retainer that covers the surfaces in your mouth that touch when you bite. The guard can be worn on the top or bottom set of teeth and can be customized to comfortably fit the unique shape of your teeth and bite. A nightguard goes by many names. You may hear a dentist call it a mouthguard, bite splint, dental guard, occlusal guard, or nocturnal bite guard. There are various kinds of nightguards you can get, whether hard or soft, over-the-counter or custom-made. The harder the nightguard, the more durable and effective it will be. If you have a severe case of bruxism, a hard nightguard may be the best option for you. Although softer nightguards may be more comfortable and cheaper, they aren’t as effective nor as long-lasting.
Although you can find a one-size-fits-all nightguard over-the-counter for a low cost, this option will likely cause your bite to shift. It is far wiser and much more effective to use a nightguard custom-made by a dentist using an impression of your teeth.
Why do I need one?
There are many important reasons you should investigate getting a nightguard if you suspect you may have bruxism, whether to get rid of your pesky headaches and jaw pain or to prevent future health problems.
- Prevent damage to your teeth.
Constant grinding of your teeth can erode the enamel protecting your teeth and cause extra sensitivity. If your enamel has been eroded, eating and drinking hot things will be painful and your teeth may even start to decay.
- Prevent TMJ disorder.
Your TMJ (temporomandibular joint) connects your skull and your jaw and is associated with the muscles you use to chew your food. When you clench your teeth, you apply extra pressure to this joint, which can result in misalignment. When this happens, you may experience chewing difficulty and discomfort, ear pain, and headaches.
- Prevent chronic headaches
Neck pain and headaches are typically a couple of the first symptoms you will experience if you have bruxism. As you clench and grind your teeth, you create tension in the muscles in your neck, shoulder, mouth, and jaw, resulting in frequent discomfort and pain.
- Prevent altering your bite.
A custom-made nightguard will protect your natural bite because it will be fitted precisely to your teeth and mouth. Softer nightguards and sports mouthguards (usually made of soft material) may encourage you to chew while you sleep because your brain interprets the guard as food. Such chewing can cause further muscle discomfort and shift your bite over time.
- Prevent plaque development.
Many people confuse nightguards with sports mouthguards. However, it is essential for you to remember the difference. Unlike nightguards, sports mouthguards allow harmful bacteria to collect around your gums. When this bacteria collects, plaque will develop and cause greater oral health problems down the road.
- Save money.
Although a durable, custom-made nightguard can cost several hundreds of dollars, this is a small price when compared to the potential restorative dentistry costs you may face without the preventative measure of a nightguard.
If you’re looking for a dentist who can help you determine if you have bruxism and need a nightguard, look no further! The team at Salling & Tate is skilled in both general and cosmetic dentistry. Think of us as a one-stop shop for all your dental needs! Give us a call today at 910-256-9040 or click here to schedule your next appointment online.