Do you grind your teeth at night?
A night guard for teeth grinding could save your smile from the negative side effects of grinding your teeth at night. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is the act of clenching your jaw at night and then moving it around so that your upper and lower teeth rub together. This puts excessive pressure on your teeth, leading to the potential for chipped teeth, lost teeth, and an increased risk of cavities and other dental conditions. It also puts a lot of pressure on your jaw, hence why you may wake up with a sore jaw.
What is a Night Guard for Teeth?
A night guard, also known as an occlusal guard, occlusal splint, or bite splint, is a plastic mold that fits over some or all of your teeth. More commonly, the guard only fits over the top teeth. Certain factors, such as wearing braces, may prompt your dentist to create a guard for your bottom teeth as well. That’s the great thing about a custom night guard for teeth grinding, it’s made specifically for you, the shape of your mouth, and so forth.
Save Your Enamel with a Night Guard for Teeth Grinding
Grinding your teeth wears away your tooth enamel, therefore robbing your teeth of their outermost protective layer. Once enamel dissipates, there’s no getting it back. Plus, less tooth enamel increases your risk for cavities, tooth sensitivity, and other issues.
Do You Need a Mouth Guard for Teeth Grinding?
You may not even know you are grinding your teeth at night and could benefit from a mouth guard for teeth grinding. Ask a friend, family member, or spouse to take note while you sleep and see if they hear you grinding your teeth. In the meantime, be on the lookout for common symptoms of teeth grinding, such as:
- Pain in your jaw and face
- Headaches, especially persistent when you first wake up
- Discomfort when you open your mouth or move your jaw muscles
- Increased pain when you chew or eat
- Tooth sensitivity
- Disruptive sleep
Does Wearing a Night Guard Stop Tooth Grinding?
A night guard doesn’t necessarily stop you from grinding your teeth. In fact, researchers admit there is no known way to stop your brain from clenching and grinding your jaw since you cannot control movements in your sleep. So, the next best thing you can do is protect your teeth from damages by shielding them with a night guard. This provides a barrier between your lower and upper teeth and puts some space in between the two. That way, you wear down the guard instead of your natural tooth enamel.
Do I Really Need a Night Guard for Teeth Grinding?
Only a dentist can you tell if you a night guard for teeth grinding is right for you. Although, for the most part, they are an incredibly helpful aid when it comes to preventing the side effects of teeth grinding. Common side effects of teeth grinding without a night guard include:
- Chipped or broken teeth
- Tooth loss
- Loss of enamel—once enamel wears away you do not get it back and your teeth become more prone to cavities and other dental issues.
- Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD), a disorder that impacts the mobility of your jaw. Thankfully, this disorder typically goes away on its own once the underlying problem or cause is addressed.
What Causes Nighttime Teeth Grinding?
It is common for people to grind or clench their teeth occasionally, but it doesn’t usually cause a problem until teeth grinding becomes a regular occurrence. The problem is that the grinding and clenching often happens at night, and the person doesn’t realize the issues are happening while they are sleeping.
Several factors can increase the risk of teeth grinding and clenching. Identifying the underlying factors can be beneficial so that you can explore other treatments or solutions to use in addition to wearing a night guard:
- Stress and Anxiety: If you are facing chronic stress due to personal responsibilities, work, or relationships, then the high levels of stress could be taking a toll on your dental health. Look for ways that you can implement stress-reducing techniques, such as meditation, a job change, or adjusting your schedule for more self-care time.
- Abnormal Bite: In some cases, dental or orthodontic treatments can correct the bite and reduce teeth grinding. For example, straightening crooked teeth can help to realign the way the jaw rests. Talk to a dentist to see if specific areas of your bite might be causing the nighttime problems.
- Missing Teeth: When teeth need to be extracted, the resulting gaps in the mouth can change the way your teeth close together. The best solution is to explore tooth restoration treatments to fill in the gap, helping to reduce the risk of teeth grinding and damage to other teeth.
- Sleep Apnea: Sleep patterns should also be evaluated, because sleep apnea can play a role in the severity of teeth grinding. Some patients have found that the treatment for sleep apnea naturally corrects the clenching or grinding problems.
Other Tips to Reduce Teeth Grinding
A few habits can play a role in teeth grinding at night. Wearing a night guard can be essential for this problem, but you can also change your lifestyle to reduce the tension in your jaw. Here are a few other tips that help with the reduction of nighttime teeth grinding:
Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which have both been found to intensify teeth grinding
Don’t chew on gum or anything that isn’t food (such as pens and pencils). The chewing motion during the day tightens the muscles and makes it more likely that you will clench at night.
In severe cases of teeth clenching, your doctor might recommend muscle relaxant medication before bed.
Bring awareness to your jaw position during the day and notice when you are clenching during your regular activities. You can train your jaw to relax by placing the tip of your tongue between your teeth.
Try muscle relaxation techniques, such as gentle jaw and facial massage before bed. A warm washcloth or heating pad can also be used to relax the jaw muscles.
Children and Teeth Grinding
While mouth guards are commonly used for adults, teeth grinding can also happen in the childhood years. Peak times when children experience tooth grinding are when the baby teeth are coming in or the permanent teeth are growing. When the full set of permanent teeth have grown in, it is common for the teeth grinding to go away.
In most situation, preschool-age children don’t require intervention for teeth grinding. But older children might require intervention if the teeth are damaged or the child is experiencing headaches, jaw pain, or tooth sensitivity.
When Do You Wear a Mouth Guard for Teeth Grinding?
Teeth grinding typically only occurs when you’re sleeping and do not have control of your muscle movements. During the day when you are awake and alert, you can stop yourself from clenching your jaw before you even start to grind your teeth. Hence, why a night guard for teeth grinding is worn at night.
You can still help control the issue when you’re awake. For instance, if you notice your jaw clenching, take a deep breath and try to soften and relax your jaw. By focusing on relaxing your jaw throughout the day, you can help reduce tension and grinding at night.
Custom Mouth Guards for Teeth Grinding by Southcentre Dental
Is a custom mouth guard right for you? If you have been experiencing symptoms related to tooth grinding, then you should talk to our experienced team about your treatment options. Most patients are amazed to notice the difference that occurs when they start using a custom mouth guard while sleeping.
We take utmost care to create custom mouth guards for teeth grinding. Our focus is on each patient and their specific needs, taking everything into account from the shape of your mouth to the severity of bruxism. If you think you are grinding your teeth at night, stop in for a visit so we can assess the situation and offer an effective solution to prevent serious dental issues from arising as a result of uncontrolled teeth grinding.
Schedule a Consult with Dr. Jennifer Silver