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Can a Custom Night Guard Help Stop Tooth Grinding?
If you wake up each morning with a dull headache and suspect teeth grinding might be the culprit, it may be time for a night guard. Night guards are custom-made mouthguards that are designed to protect the teeth from excessive contact. For adult dental patients with bruxism (a condition characterized by unconscious nightly teeth grinding and clenching), night guards are a necessity.
What is bruxism?
Teeth grinding, a condition known medically as bruxism, is a complicated disorder. The exact cause of bruxism is unclear, and the cause of the condition can vary by each individual case. Teeth grinding is
How to tell if I have bruxism
Although most teeth grinding happens at night unconsciously, there are a few ways to tell if you have this condition. Involuntary jaw clenching throughout the day can signify bruxism, as well as a dull headache that does not seem to subside. Headaches associated with teeth grinding and clenching often originate in the temples and can radiate outward toward the area behind the ears.
The effects of bruxism
The only way to tell for sure if a patient has bruxism is to visit the dentist. The dentist will perform a full dental examination where he or she will look out for certain signs of the condition. A white line on either side of the inner cheeks can mean the patient frequently gnashes their teeth together. The dentist will also search for signs of excessive wear on teeth and fractures in the enamel.
What may seem like an innocuous condition, bruxism can actually cause some serious damage over time. If left untreated, the constant clenching or grinding of teeth can put unnecessary pressure on the teeth. After a long period, grinding causes small fractures to form in teeth. These fractures can lead to bigger breaks, gum recession and even tooth loss.
Night guards to protect teeth
Although it would be ideal to just stop grinding teeth altogether, finding out the source of the problem is usually a bit more complicated than it may seem. The dentist may offer tips on stress relief, or consciously training oneself to unclench teeth during the day, but no methods have been proven to completely stop bruxism. In some cases, misaligned teeth can cause bruxism. No matter what the cause, the only surefire way to protect teeth is with a nightly mouth guard.
Although night guards purchased at a drugstore are cheaper, custom-made mouth guards are the gold standard in protecting teeth. They fit exactly right in the mouth, and are completely snug against teeth. Night guards created by a dentist are essentially tough plastic trays that are made from an impression of the teeth. Custom-made mouth guards are built to last over a decade, while over-the-counter mouth guards have a much shorter lifetime.
Custom night guards can also adjust the bite and position of the jaw, which can actually correct bruxism. These sleek mouth guards allow the patient to breathe freely while sleeping, and make the problem better. Inversely, store-bought night guards may exacerbate the problem, although they still accomplish the goal of limiting contact between teeth.
Night guards can save your teeth
If you suspect you have bruxism, call your dentist right away. Preventing big problems associated with teeth grinding starts with catching the condition early on. Consider a night guard if you think bruxism is threatening your teeth.
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