How Can Night Guards Help with Bruxism?

How Can Night Guards Help with Bruxism?

Jan 28, 2022

Do you experience headaches, jaw pain, or toothaches after waking up? You might be suffering from tooth grinding or clenching; a dental condition called bruxism. Fortunately, you’re not alone. Bruxism is the act of tooth grinding or clenching. Grinding is the process of moving the jaw back and forth. On the other hand, clenching involves biting down with excessive force for extended periods.

Commonly, teeth grinding or bruxism happens unconsciously, and multiple factors cause them. Most people might not even know they have this problem until told by their dentist or sleep partners tell them. Over time, teeth clenching and grinding can cause sleep problems and extensive tooth damage, such as tooth decay, pain, and sensitivity. It can also cause headaches and pain in the neck, face, or jaw.

Symptoms of Teeth Grinding

While the following symptoms don’t always mean that you are grinding your teeth, they could be a sign. You should consult your dentist for a proper diagnosis.

  • Morning headaches
  • Jaw pain or soreness
  • Facial muscle soreness
  • Flattened back teeth
  • Persistent tooth pain and sensitivity
  • Regular earaches
  • Difficulty opening your mouth widely
  • Chipped, cracked, or fractured teeth

In most cases, the effects of mild teeth grinding might not cause any serious concerns. However, severe teeth clenching and grinding can cause:

  • Jaw and facial pain
  • Teeth damage such as cracks, chips, or breaks
  • Damage to restorative treatments such as implants, crowns, and veneers
  • Wearing down or weakness of the teeth
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)
  • Tension-type headaches
  • Painful and sensitive teeth

Risk factors for teeth grinding include:

  • Age – Teeth grinding is common among young children.
  • Personality – Individuals who are naturally aggressive, competitive, or hyperactive are more likely to develop bruxism.
  • Emotions – Many people grind their teeth unconsciously under intense anger, pressure, frustration, or stress.
  • Certain medications – Psychiatric medication can increase the risk of teeth grinding.
  • Drug abuse and tobacco use
  • High consumption of alcoholic or caffeinated drinks
  • Health conditions – Individuals with health conditions such as sleep apnea, epilepsy, hyperactivity disorder, or Parkinson’s disease are likely to suffer from bruxism.

How to Stop or Manage Bruxism

Since the exact cause of bruxism isn’t clear (could be mental, physical, or genetic), there are no detailed treatment options. Standard treatment options include:

  • Anxiety and stress management – Stress or anxiety can cause bruxism. You can manage the problem by practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation.
  • Behavioral change
  • Lifestyle changes – Avoid smoking and limit your consumption of alcohol and caffeine.
  • Customized Night Guards

How Night Guards Help with Bruxism

To prevent the effects of sleep bruxism, you should consider getting a night guard. Wearing a nightguard reduces the problem of grinding your teeth against each other, thus preventing teeth damage and jawbone muscle strains. Nightguards are available in a drugstore near you, or you can get them from your dentist. With over-the-counter nightguards, you have two options – stock nightguards or boil and bite nightguards.

Stock guards are generic. Finding a perfect fit might be difficult, making them look unattractive, poorly fitting, and can cause breath and speech difficulties. On the positive side, they are readily available and inexpensive. Boil and bite guards are ready-made but are customized by boiling and biting down on them.

The last and most effective option is to get a customized nightguard from your dentist. The dentist takes impressions of your mouth and makes a custom-fitted nightguard. The night guard fits well without causing any discomfort or affecting your breathing or speech. On the downside, this option can be the most expensive. But considering the benefits, it’s well worth it.

How Long do Bruxism Night Guards last?

How long your nightguard will last can depend on several factors, including:

  • The severity of your condition – An individual with severe bruxism will have to replace their nightguard sooner than those with mild teeth grinding.
  • Type of nightguard – The three main types of nightguards are soft, hard, and dual laminate. A soft nightguard is likely to wear out much faster than a hard one.
  • Care – Taking proper care of your nightguard will ensure that it serves you for longer. Avoid damaging habits such as eating and drinking hot drinks while wearing your nightguard.

Schedule an Appointment Today

Are you interested in night guard services, or would you like to learn more about night guard procedures? Contact Lexington Dental Group today to book your appointment.

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