How Night Guards Can Help With Bruxism

by | May 15, 2019 | Family Dentistry

Have you ever woken up in the morning with jaw pain? Have you ever looked at your teeth and noticed they’re wearing down?

You may be suffering from bruxism.

More commonly known as “teeth grinding,” bruxism is a condition that affects around 10% of adults and can cause serious dental issues if not attended to. The good news is that preventing damage caused by teeth grinding is simple with the help of a mouth guard for teeth grinding.

What Causes Teeth Grinding?

Bruxism can be caused by a wide variety of factors. It can be hereditary, but can also occur in those who have no family history of teeth grinding. Stress, anxiety, and poor tooth alignment can cause bruxism, as can certain sleep conditions, such as sleep apnea.

Symptoms of Teeth Grinding

Grinding your teeth at night can cause a whole host of issues. Some are less severe than others, but all can result in lasting dental problems. You may have bruxism if you:

  • Are experiencing pain in the temporomandibular joints where the jaw meets the skull
  • Have teeth that are chipped, dull, or cracked
  • Are experiencing increased sensitivity
  • Hear a clicking or popping noise when opening and closing your mouth
  • Have experienced enamel loss
  • Notice an increase in dull headaches
  • Have a locked jaw, or cannot open/close your mouth completely

Bruxism can be so severe that you may even begin to notice that some of your teeth are loosening. Regardless of how painful your symptoms are, consult with your dentist as soon as possible if you think you may be grinding your teeth at night. They may recommend you invest in a dental night guard in order to protect your teeth and reduce the effects of bruxism.

What is a Dental Night Guard (Occlusal Guard)?

Occlusal guards, also known as night guards, are special, removable devices worn at night in order to protect against grinding or clenching.

Occlusal guards are typically made of acrylic resin. Creating a dental night guard usually takes at least two visits to your dentist, but can take more if adjustments need to be made.

During the first visit, your dentist will take a mold of your teeth. Most night guards cover only the top row of teeth, but some varieties can cover the bottom row or both rows at the same time. Your dentist will send the mold away to the lab that makes the night guards. Typically, it will take the lab two weeks to fabricate your occlusal guard.

After the guard is sent back to our office, you’ll come in for a second visit to make sure it fits well and to learn how to use it.

Why Should You Get a Night Guard?

Unfortunately, bruxism can’t be “cured” by an occlusal guard. Night guards are simply used to mitigate the damage associated with teeth grinding and lessen the condition’s painful effects.

It’s important to protect your teeth against grinding and teeth clenching to avoid long-term effects. Left unchecked, bruxism can cause joint problems, broken teeth, and possible tooth loss. Getting a night guard might seem expensive, but it’s much cheaper than hours of painful dental work.

We also encourage you to bring your night guard to your dental hygiene visits so we can inspect and clean it. We have seen many of these guards last over 10 years with proper care and maintenance.

Why Should You Have a Dentist Make a Night Guard?

Nowadays, there are many options when it comes to where to get an occlusal guard. While the alternatives may seem cheap and convenient, having a dentist make a night guard is usually the safest option.

For instance, you can buy an over-the-counter kit that will allow you to make your own night guard. Though this method is cost-effective, it can be incredibly hard to ensure your night guard fits properly.

How long do bruxism mouth guards last?

You must also consider that these over-the-counter options typically only last a couple of months before wearing out. They also tend to be bulky and too soft to control your bite, which can cause you to chew the guard and actually worsen the problem.

You could try an online night guard service. With this option, you make the mold yourself and then mail it to a company that turns it into a night guard. This option can certainly be convenient but still won’t ensure a perfect fit. Using an online nightguard service also means that you don’t have many options when it comes to ongoing support.

That leaves us with the traditional option of visiting your dentist to get a night guard. While this method may be a little more time consuming, it is the only way to ensure your night guard is fitted perfectly to your teeth. You’ll also be able to call your dentist should your night guard need any adjustments. Plus, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that a trained professional is creating the perfect occlusal guard for you.

We put a lot of care into fabricating night guards that are comfortable and as small as possible; while still providing the hard, smooth biting surface needed to control how your teeth contact the guard. It’s essential that the right bite is achieved, as it can drastically change how your muscles react at night.

If you’ve woken up in the night with tooth or jaw pain, or you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, consider visiting Salling & Tate General Dentistry. Our dental professionals have helped many patients lessen the effects of bruxism with the help of a custom night guard. Contact us to schedule an appointment, get a quote, or find out if night guards are covered by your dental insurance.