Bruxism (teeth grinding or teeth clenching) can be a serious threat to your smile and your oral health. Dental health professionals aren’t quite sure exactly what causes this condition. However, they do agree that wearing a dental night guard may help safeguard your teeth from its impacts. Every treatment has its pros and cons. What should you know about bruxism and night guards?
Is a Dental Night Guard Necessary?
Bruxism is a condition that causes you to unconsciously grind your teeth and clench your jaw. People with awake bruxism do it during the day. People with sleep bruxism struggle with the behaviors during the night. Although no one is sure what mechanism causes bruxism, it’s often associated with stress. In other cases, an abnormal bite may be to blame.
The Trouble With Tooth Grinding
Bruxism is bad news for your oral health. Teeth grinding and jaw clenching puts enormous pressure on your teeth and gums. Over time, this can lead to serious dental damage. Worn, chipped, cracked, and broken teeth are common. Jaw pain, facial pain, earaches, and headaches are also frequent complaints.
The Pros and Cons of Dental Night Guards
A dental night guard goes by many names. You may hear it called an oral appliance, oral splint, or a mouth guard for grinding teeth. Whatever you label it, it resembles a mouth guard used by an athlete on a sports field. Fitted to either the upper or lower teeth, it forms a physical barrier that prevents damage from grinding and encourages the jaw muscles to relax.
The pros of dental night guards are easy to appreciate:
- They are easy to use. Using a night guard is simple. Simply place it in your mouth before going to bed.
- They prevent dental damage. Wearing a night guard consistently protects your teeth from grinding. Technically you may still be clenching your jaw, but the night guard will minimize any damage.
- They support better sleep. People with bruxism often deal with shattered sleep due to full or partial awakenings as they clench and grind. Wearing the night guard breaks this pattern.
- They’re adjustable. Custom-fitted night guards can be adjusted by your dentist for a better fit.
- Special night guards treat a variety of conditions. Night guards aren’t just for bruxism. They can also be used to treat temporomandibular joint disorders, sleep apnea, and misaligned bites. Working with your dentist can provide hands-on, personalized care.
While night guards are highly recommended as a treatment for bruxism, nothing is perfect. They do have some cons:
- Wait time. Night guards are custom-fitted. Your dentist will take an impression of your mouth at the office. Depending on the type of night guard you need, it’s possible to create the guard onsite, but sometimes it needs to be sent off to a lab, and wait for the appliance to be crafted. This takes time.
- Cost. Many insurance plans won’t cover night guards, so they can be expensive. They also need to be replaced periodically.
Are Night Guards Forever?
Are you stuck wearing a night guard for teeth forever? That depends. Wearing your night guard protects your oral health, so you should do so as long as you’re bruxing. However, some people do stop bruxing. Was your bruxing likely triggered by bite issues that have been corrected? Was the stress that triggered your bruxing limited? If you suspect that you have stopped grinding your teeth, ask your dentist to check your teeth and night guard. If there is no sign of wear, you may be able to put aside the night guard.
When you have concerns about your oral health, reach out to Wekiva Dental. Our team is committed to helping you achieve and maintain your healthiest smile. Contact us today to discover more.