Dental night guards protect their teeth from wearing down due to clenching or grinding. This condition, referred to as bruxism, affects 50-95% of the adult population and is activated by chewing. Some experts believe it is caused by stress and anxiety. If your dentist has recommended a night guard and you are wondering which one is right for you, we’ve got you covered. This post by experts at a leading dental office in Brampton explains things you need to know about night guards.
Is a Night Guard Right for You?
- What are night guards?
A night guard is a device placed over teeth to keep the wearer from clenching or grinding. Clenching means biting down for long periods of time; grinding involves moving the jaw back and forth. The guard protects both bottom and top teeth. They are generally made from plastic and can be placed over some or all of the lower or upper teeth. They are commonly worn over the upper teeth, but for someone who wears braces or other dental appliances, they can be customized for lower teeth.
Night guards also help protect your teeth from cracking or chipping, and re-establish the natural space between them. They won’t stop you from doing either but serve as a cushion to prevent wear. They also provide rest to the jaw during sleep.
- Is a night guard your only option?
Night guards aren’t the only option for treating bruxism, but they are the most common and the best. Here are other things you can do to lessen or prevent teeth clenching or grinding:
- Don’t smoke, especially right before bed
- Relax before sleep by doing yoga, meditating, or listening to music
- Limit alcohol and coffee consumption
- Do they hurt?
Like other dental appliances, a night guard takes time to get used to. It is advisable that you wear it for a few hours before bed, until it begins to feel normal. This helps you get used to it faster. If it still hurts even after doing this, consult your dentist about getting a custom-fitted one.
- What are the benefits of night guards?
Wearing a night guard can:
- Prevent Headaches – One symptom of teeth clenching and grinding is headache. Waking up to a headache is never pleasant, and night guards can alleviate this.
- Alleviate Pain and Tension – Cases of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and bruxism are associated with tooth sensitivity and pain. Symptoms can also include muscle fatigue, earaches, neck pain, and muscle spasms. Once you start using a night guard, you will notice these symptoms disappearing almost instantly.
- Stop Tooth Damage – Clenching and grinding teeth during sleep damages them. This includes chipped and broken teeth, excessive wear, and damage to fillings. A night guard prevents the upper jaw from coming in contact with the lower one, reducing the impact of the above-mentioned habits.
- Prohibit Snoring – Jaw clenching and teeth grinding often result in snoring. Wearing a night guard can prevent snoring as it helps separate the jaws which increases air intake and lets you breathe more easily.
- Save Money in the Long Run – Teeth are expensive to repair. Clenching your jaw can slowly destroy teeth, requiring multiple trips to the dentist. Night guards alleviate said damage.
- What types are available?
- Soft Night Guards
These are the most common. They are generally used for occasional or mild cases but are not recommended for severe grinders. They are the most comfortable and are easy to get used to. Soft night guards also cost less than other guards but have a limited lifespan and are not recommended as a long-term solution.
- Dual Laminate Night Guards
These are recommended for moderately severe grinders and have a soft texture on the inside and a hard one on the outside. They are designed to handle heavy grinding and clenching, and last much longer than soft ones. However, since they are slightly thicker, they may take longer to get used to.
- Hard Night Guards
These are made with acrylic so are durable and rigid. Recommended for people with severe cases of clenching, grinding, and TMJ, they are the most durable and are great at preventing teeth from shifting. However, they are much thicker than soft night guards so can be uncomfortable to wear and take longer to get used to.
From preventing tooth damage to alleviating headaches and other pain, dental night guards offer many benefits and help improve quality of life. However, all mouth guards are not created equal, so talk to your Brampton dentist before purchasing one. Remember, taking care of your teeth while you sleep will help improve your quality of sleep and allow you to live your best life.