Grinding Your Teeth at Night? Get a Night Guard
Teeth clenching and grinding is a fairly common condition that occurs in both children and adults. Because children’s teeth and jaws change rapidly, grinding does not usually have long-term consequences for children. However Rodeo Dental sometimes recommends that adults who grind their teeth to the point of injury be fitted with a special night guard (mouth guard) to prevent further damage.
Signs You Might Need a Night Guard
Teeth grinding or clenching (called bruxism) can be caused by stress and anxiety, sleep disorders, an abnormal bite, or crooked/missing teeth. Some people clench and grind their teeth during the day, while others do it unconsciously at night. Signs you may be suffering from bruxism include:
- Soreness and pain in the jaw or face
- A dull headache originating from the temples
- Damaged teeth including fractures, chips, and worn enamel
- Tired or tight jaw muscles
- Increased tooth sensitivity
- Tongue indentations or cheek damage
In addition, sometimes your partner may be able to hear you grinding your teeth while you sleep.
Using a Night Guard
To treat your bruxism, your dentist may prescribe a night guard to wear at night to protect your teeth. These guards are designed to keep the teeth separated while you sleep so that your bruxism does not cause any damage. They fit over your upper and/or lower teeth and can be made of hard acrylic or soft materials.
It is important to get a night guard from your dentist (rather than the store) that is custom fitted for your unique grinding pattern. You may need a small guard that covers only a few teeth, or you may need one that fits over most or all of your teeth. In addition, store bought night guards are generally poorly fitting, unattractive, uncomfortable, and can even come out during grinding. This can lead to additional dental problems in the future.
How Custom Night Guards Are Made
Getting a custom night guard is a completely painless procedure! Our dentists simply take an impression of your teeth by placing a horseshoe shaped tray in your mouth. The tray contains a pliable material that molds to your teeth and then, once removed, sets into an exact replica of your mouth.
Rodeo Dental sends your impressions to a dental lab where your custom night guard is created to match your teeth exactly. This process ensures that you will have the most comfortable night guard that is matched to your grinding pattern, and will effectively prevent damage for years to come.
What Happens If I Don’t Get a Night Guard?
The jaw is incredibly powerful, and grinding your teeth back and forth or clenching them can cause a number of serious problems. These include:
- Flattened teeth
- Pain due to nerve exposure
- Cracked teeth
- Temperature sensitivity
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
- Migraine headaches
- Shoulder, neck and back pain
- Ear pain
Fixing the damage may include root canals, crowns, veneers, bridges, extractions and tooth implants. So for patients with severe tooth grinding that is not alleviated by stress management strategies like professional counseling, exercise or meditation, a night guard is essential for maintaining the health and structural integrity of the teeth.