Signs You Need a Night Guard for Teeth Grinding

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Trying to figure out if you grind or clench your teeth together at night? There are a couple tell-tale signs and symptoms. For instance, sore facial muscles, neck pain, a headache, or fatigue immediately after waking up are commonly a result of teeth grinding, also known as bruxism. Some individuals may even experiences issues with their jaw joint, including temporomandibular disorders (TMD).

Regardless of age, bruxism and clenching have been reported to be a relatively common habit. For a lot of individuals, teeth grinding may occur unconsciously during the night. Sometimes, people are informed that they have this habit when loved ones hear the grinding sounds at night. Or, their dentist spots signs like worn down teeth during their regular check-up. However, sleep bruxism in children often self-corrects without treatment and rarely causes any permanent damage to teeth. But, depending on the severity of the habit and the child’s specific oral condition, treatment may be recommended.

Unfortunately, bruxism is a negative habit to have, as it can cause tooth aches, tooth mobility, tooth enamel fracture, damage to the bone and gums, and even tooth loss in severe cases. One of the most conservative and common treatment options for mild sleep bruxism is a night guard. Night guards are designed to help protect your teeth from harm caused by grinding and clenching. They act as a cushion to help reduce the forces exerted on your teeth. Some are made to cover the top teeth, bottom teeth, or both.

Bruxism can be managed with the help of your dental professionals. Your dentist may recommend a custom-made night guard, which tend to be the best quality and most comfortable. However, these night guards are typically more expensive. After taking an impression of your teeth, the night guard will be designed in a lab to accurately fit your teeth. Some night guards can be purchased over-the-counter at most drug stores and pharmacies. These are relatively inexpensive but will not precisely fit your teeth, as they are made in generic sizes. Another type of night guard sold at stores are “Boil and Bite Guards.” Although less accurate than the custom-made night guards from your dentist, these night guards require you to boil the material in water and bite into it making your own impression of your teeth until it becomes firm.

Be sure to clean your night guard before and after use to help prevent bacteria from accumulating and causing tooth decay. Avoid using hot water when rinsing as it may damage the night guard material. When not using, keep your night guard in a case, which should also be cleaned frequently. Once your night guard becomes uncomfortable, damaged, or begins to not fit well, you may need to have it replaced with a new one.

Your dentist may also recommend a modification of diet, such as limiting caffeinated beverages like coffee, energy drinks, and sodas. As a stimulant, caffeine may increase the risk of bruxism. Stress prevention may also help reduce the risk of bruxism. Reading a book, meditating, or performing other tasks that you enjoy may help you relax before bedtime. Medications may also contribute to bruxism, like some antidepressants. Speak with your doctors regarding your medications so that they can determine if any adjustments are necessary. Further, if your teeth do not fit together properly, your dentist may recommend correcting your bite with orthodontic treatment (braces), which may help eliminate stresses on your jaws.

If you believe you are experiencing sleep bruxism, be sure to inform your dentist. A definitive diagnosis and treatment plan will be made following evaluation.