Do you ever wake up in the morning with tenderness or pain in your jaw? Or, do you often have headaches when you get up? This discomfort is usually a sign that you grind or clench your teeth in your sleep. On average, everyone grinds or clenches their teeth in their sleep at some point in their lives, but some people have a tendency to grind or clench their teeth more than others.
Unfortunately, there is no real cure for grinding. However, many dentists recommend night guards to lessen the impact of teeth grinding and clenching. Read on to discover how this dental device is the solution to your source of jaw pain, headaches, and other pain in your mouth.
What Is a Night Guard?
Like a mouth guard, a night guard protects your teeth from damage. And like the name suggests, a night guard is a device you wear at night when you sleep.
You wear the guard over your top or bottom row of teeth. The device prevents all of your teeth from coming into contact with one another. As a result, your teeth are protected from grinding-caused damage and you don’t feel pain in the morning. The guard also corrects your bite to keep your muscles relaxed and loose.
Night guards are typically made from the following materials:
- Soft plastic. This kind of night guard is ideal for patients who suffer from mild teeth grinding and clenching. It’s also perfect for individuals who only grind their teeth occasionally rather than every night.
- Dual laminate. This night guard works best for people who grind their teeth more often or with more force. It’s hard on the outside and soft on the inside, providing dental patients with better protection and a stronger night guard.
- Hard acrylic. This material is more rigid than the other two, and it’s the most durable option for night guards. If you suffer from severe teeth grinding, use a guard made from this material.
Additionally, these materials require regular cleaning if you want the device to last. To determine which kind of guard will work best for you and how to care for it, visit your dentist.
Why Should You Get One?
As previously mentioned, if you grind or clench your teeth, you likely experience jaw pain, headaches, ear aches, or other pain when you wake up in the mornings. But this pain is just a minor side effect of grinding and clenching.
However, if you continue to grind your unprotected teeth, you could accidentally chip, crack, fracture, loosen, or lose some of your teeth. Or, the grinding could cause your teeth to wear down to stumps. The only way to treat these dental issues is to receive more costly dental treatment like root canals, crowns, bridges, implants, or full or partial dentures.
And, you’re more likely to experience severe headaches, migraines, neck pain, back pain, and shoulder pain as well.
A night guard is the best and quickest solution for teeth grinding. While you could undergo other forms of treatment like stress reduction and prevention, diet changes, and teeth straightening, night guards provide a long-term and more cost-effective treatment.
What Benefits Will You Experience?
We’ve already mentioned that sleeping with a night guard reduces the pain you feel in your mouth, jaw, or head when you wake up. These devices also protect your teeth from damage, but night guards also provide another great benefit.
By wearing a night guard as you sleep, you can improve how you sleep. Grinding and clenching cause you to tense up the muscles in your jaw. And, the motion puts a great deal of force on those muscles. As your muscles tighten and use consistent force, you tend to experience more stressful and restless sleep.
The night guard reduces the pressure and helps your muscles relax. When your muscles are more relaxed, you can sleep much better.
Who Should You Work With to Obtain a Night Guard?
While you could purchase a cheap, boil-and-bite guard at your local grocery store or pharmacy, the best solution is to schedule an appointment with your dentist to get fitted for a night guard.
During your appointment, your dentist will first examine your teeth, then take a mold of your mouth. The mold is then sent to a production lab, and the technicians in this lab use the mold to create a custom night guard that perfectly fits your mouth. Once the night guard has been made, you’ll return to your dentist. He or she will then ensure the device fits properly so you get the best results when you use it.
Your dentist will also teach you how to clean and care for your night guard. When properly maintained, your night guard can last up to 10 years.
If you grind your teeth or clench your jaw, call your dentist and get a night guard as soon as possible.