Do you ever wake up with a sore jaw, headache, or even damaged teeth? Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a common condition that, when left untreated, can negatively impact your dental health. The good news is, there are many different treatment options available; one such treatment is a night guard for teeth. In this blog post, we’ll explore the world of night guards and their benefits, the different types, and how to select the right one for you.
- Night guards provide protection from bruxism-related tooth damage and help reduce jaw pain.
- Different types of night guards are available to cater to various needs and preferences.
- Proper cleaning, storage, monitoring and replacement of a night guard is essential for its effectiveness in protecting teeth against grinding symptoms.
Understanding Night Guards for Teeth Grinding
Night guards, also known as dental splints or occlusal splints, are designed to protect your teeth from the risks of grinding and clenching during sleep. Their benefits range from reduced jaw pain to the prevention of tooth damage and can offer relief from the discomfort of bruxism. With a night guard in place, your jaw is guided into a more relaxed position and it absorbs the force created by grinding, ultimately protecting your precious teeth.
The cost of a dental splint or night guard can vary, depending on the type of material used, the design and the dental lab used for constructing the night guard. However, considering the alternative – the potential for dental complications, from tooth wear to cracked teeth – investing in a night guard may be a small price to pay for your dental health and peace of mind.
The Science Behind Night Guards
Night guards form a protective shield between your upper and lower teeth, effectively absorbing the pressure caused by grinding. The night guard helps preserve the teeth’s structural integrity and helps decrease the muscle pressure associated with grinding. The reduction in jaw pressure towards the teeth generated by your grinding muscles can, in turn, also help alleviate symptoms such as jaw pain or mild headaches caused by grinding.
Types of Night Guards
Different types of night guards are available, each catering to various needs and preferences. The primary options are soft, hard, and hard-soft (dual-laminate) night guards. Soft night guards, often used for mild cases of bruxism, offer comfort and can contribute to improved sleep. However, they may not be as resilient or durable as those made of harder materials.
On the other hand, hard night guards offer durability but may not be as comfortable as their softer counterparts. Hard night guards are typically recommended for patients with more intense teeth grinding or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder (also known as TMD) symptoms.
Lastly, hard-soft dual laminate night guards, essentially the ‘best of both worlds’, offer a solution to those seeking both durability and comfort. These types of guards typically have a soft inner layer for comfort and a hard outer layer for longevity and resistance against intense grinding.
Always discuss the different types of night guards with your dentist to find the best solution for your unique situation.
Identifying Teeth Grinding and Clenching Symptoms
Teeth grinding and clenching symptoms can manifest in various ways, such as worn tooth enamel, jaw pain, tooth sensitivity, facial pain, and/or headaches. These symptoms may indicate a case of sleep bruxism, which requires attention and treatment to prevent possible further complications.
If you suspect that you or your child may be grinding or clenching your teeth during sleep, speak to your dentist or doctor for more information and guidance. Early intervention can help protect your teeth and jaw, preventing long-term damage and discomfort.
Causes of Teeth Grinding and Clenching
Teeth grinding and teeth clenching can have various causes, ranging from stress and anxiety, smoking and caffeine intake and sleep disorders. Sometimes, it may also be linked to certain types of medications and health conditions. With a custom night guard, you can help alleviate the symptoms and protect your teeth regardless of the cause.
For children, potential contributing factors for teeth grinding may include mouth irritation, such as when teeth are coming through, stress and anxiety, as well as some medications and health conditions. As with adults, depending on the child’s age, using a night guard can help manage the symptoms of grinding and protect the child’s teeth, providing relief and peace of mind for both parents and children.
Consequences of Untreated Teeth Grinding
Untreated teeth grinding in severe cases may lead to major dental issues, such as cracked or fractured teeth, tooth loss, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders (known as TMD), which can lead to needing more complex and often costly dental treatments. Furthermore, leaving teeth grinding unaddressed may also lead to long-term changes to the jaw, enamel loss, and a heightened risk of tooth decay or dental infection from cracked or fractured teeth.
Protecting your teeth from the harmful effects of grinding and clenching can be crucial, and using a night guard can be a simple yet effective solution to protect teeth. Addressing the issue early on can prevent future complications and help to maintain a healthy, beautiful smile!
Selecting the Right Night Guard for You
Choosing the proper night guard involves considering factors such as fit, comfort, materials, and durability. A custom-fit night guard from your dentist often provides the best results, as it is specifically designed to fit your mouth and teeth. Over-the-counter options, while more affordable, may not provide as perfect a fit and may be less comfortable and less effective at protecting teeth.
When selecting a night guard, evaluating the severity of your grinding, personal comfort preferences, and budget constraints is essential. With these factors in mind, during a consultation with your dentist, you can make an informed decision and select the best night guard for your unique situation.
Factors to Consider
When selecting a night guard, there are several factors to consider, such as the texture, comfort, durability, longevity, price, potential side effects, teeth condition, and intensity of bruxism. For example, certain thicknesses and designs of night guards are more suitable for light to moderate bruxism than moderate to severe bruxism. If you also have TMD, changes to the splint design can also help reposition the way the jaw sits and help treat the TMD. At the same time, night guards can be made from various materials, such as acrylic or thermoplastic.
The comfort and effectiveness of a night guard are essential elements to consider when making a selection. An ill-fitting or inefficient night guard will not provide the desired outcome or a better night’s sleep, which is why it’s important to discuss your options and preferences with your dentist.
Custom Night Guards vs. Over-the-Counter Options
Custom night guards, professionally made by a dentist, offer a precise fit and better protection for your natural teeth than over-the-counter options. Although they may be more expensive, custom-fit night guards are more effective at safeguarding teeth and may have a longer lifespan.
Over-the-counter options, while less expensive, are not tailored to fit your mouth, can be less effective, and may be less comfortable to wear while sleeping. Choosing between a custom fit and an over-the-counter night guard will ultimately depend on your needs, preferences, and budget.
Caring for Your Night Guard
Proper care for your night guard is essential to ensure its effectiveness and longevity. Regular cleaning, safe storage, and monitoring for signs of wear or damage can help protect your investment and maintain your dental health.
By following recommended cleaning and storage methods, you can keep your night guard in optimal condition and enjoy the benefits of a better night’s sleep and a healthier smile!
Cleaning and Storage
Cleaning your night guard is a crucial aspect of its maintenance. Using a soft toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste, gently brush your night guard and rinse it thoroughly. For a deeper cleanse, soak your night guard in an over-the-counter denture cleaner and then rinse thoroughly to keep your night guard as clean as possible.
When it comes to storage, keep your night guard in the case it is issued to you in and follow the care instructions your dentist gives you for your particular type of night guard. Most night guards are stored in a ventilated case, but some types are better stored in a small amount of water. Proper storage not only keeps your night guard clean and hygienic but also helps prevent warping and damage.
When to Replace Your Night Guard
Your custom fit night guard should be replaced by a dentist every 3-5 years or when signs of wear become evident. Regularly inspecting your night guard for signs of wear and tear, such as discolouration, tears, cracks, holes, or unpleasant odours, can help you determine when to invest in a new one. You should also have your dentist review your night guard at your regular 6 monthly check-up and clean.
Additional Treatment Options for Teeth Grinding
In addition to using a night guard, other treatment options for teeth grinding can include stress management techniques, relaxation techniques, dental bite correction and good sleep hygiene. Your dentist or doctor may also prescribe medications such as muscle relaxants or botox to help alleviate symptoms.
By combining a night guard with additional treatment options, you may be able to more effectively manage teeth grinding and its associated symptoms, ensuring a healthier, happier smile.
To recap, a night guard plays a crucial role in protecting your teeth from the damaging effects of grinding and clenching. By understanding the different types of night guards, identifying symptoms, and choosing the right night guard for your needs, you can effectively address teeth grinding and improve your dental health.
At Beaches Dental Mona Vale, your oral health is our priority. We’ll tailor your treatment plan to suit your goals, preferences and budget. Give us a call now on (02) 9997 8822 or request an appointment at a time that suits you best.