Do you wake up some mornings with a stiff and sore jaw? Do you find yourself suffering from a pounding headache after a night’s sleep? Or perhaps your partner complains that sleeping next to you is reminiscent of sleeping near a noisy construction site? If the answer to any these is “yes,” then chances are you suffer from Bruxism, the medical term for forceful clenching of your jaw, more commonly referred to as teeth grinding.
Most people who grind their teeth at night are unaware of their actions, but if allowed to persist, grinding can cause long term damage to your health. The forceful abrasion causes teeth to wear down, increases their temperature sensitivity and can result in nerve damage, fractures and cracks in the teeth. Your jaw joint and muscles work overtime and produce discomfort as you continue to clench and grind your teeth each night while you sleep.
Although the causes of tooth grinding continue to be researched and aren’t fully understood, stress, missing or abnormally shaped teeth and/or obstructive sleep apnea (a disorder where your breathing is interrupted during sleep) may be contributing factors. While there is no quick fix cure for teeth grinding, if you can identify the source of the problem that triggers Bruxism, you may be able to eliminate the grinding and clenching altogether.
As you work to address your issues causing Bruxism, an effective solution for managing the symptoms and preventing the damage done by teeth grinding is to wear a nightguard. Also known as a dental splint or occlusal guard for teeth, it is essentially a removable, thin piece of molded plastic that forms a layer of protection between the arches of your teeth.
A nightguard works in a few ways. First, it functions as a shock absorber by distributing the weight of grinding and clenching at night. Additionally, it provides a softer cushion for a biting surface instead of grinding away the protective hard outer covering of your teeth’s enamel. Lastly, a nightguard therapeutically treats jaw disorders by relaxing the joints and de-programming the muscles to prevent extra movements that can cause tightness or inflammation.
Avoid purchasing over the counter or drug store nightguards. While these types of nightguards seem cheaper, they are not custom-fit and often make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Owing to their multiple health benefits and preventative nature, in many cases nightguards are covered by most insurance plans and are available in different sizes, shapes, and materials. At Dental Brothers, we can help determine which type is the best for you. We will customize a comfortable nightguard and help you determine the best solution to improve your quality of sleep and dental health. Please call for a consultation today.