Night guards can save you from the aches and pains associated with teeth grinding and clenching, also known as bruxism. If you find yourself waking up with a sore jaw, a dull headache or tooth pain, it’s time to give Stonebrook Family Dental dental a call. Teeth grinding, affects about 30 million to 40 million children and adults in the U.S., and can trigger serious oral health issues and problems.
Night Guards 101
One of the most common treatments for teeth grinding is a custom-made night guard. Night guards are retainer-like pieces of plastic that cover either the top or bottom set of teeth. The appliance cushions your teeth from the force of clenching and stops the molars from grinding together. This not only protects your teeth, but allows you to sleep more soundly. While pharmacies carry some over-the-counter forms of night guards, custom-made night guards our office can supply provide you with a higher quality product and superior fit. Custom night guards are made in a special laboratory from an impression of your mouth. The increased comfort, durability and effectiveness of custom night guards drive their popularity.
Why Are Night Guards Necessary?
Night guards prevent the surfaces of your teeth from grinding together, which can result in tooth chipping/cracking and jaw strain. Teeth grinding often stems from stress and anxiety but can also be caused by misaligned teeth, mouth irritations and allergies. Teeth grinding is not a harmless act and needs to be addressed with your dentist. Regular clenching and grinding of your teeth, applies levels of force that, according to Dentistry Today, can equate to more than 500 pounds per square inch (psi). (For comparison, consider that when you chew a raw carrot you only exert a force of about 28 psi.) Dr. Varley can help determine the cause for the teeth grinding and offer treatment. Night guards are prescribed to prevent oral injuries, headaches, jaw tenderness, breaking teeth, or TMJ disorders. Ignoring teeth grinding symptoms will only result in more pain and problems down the road.
What Is Teeth Grinding?
Teeth grinding refers to the practice of either clenching your teeth tightly or continuously rubbing them against each other. While some teeth grinding does happen during the day, the most challenging to manage is the clenching and grinding that can happen while you sleep.
Signs & Symptoms of Teeth Grinding
Watch out for the following signs and symptoms of teeth grinding or clenching. If you notice any of the following symptoms, contact our office for an examination:
- Tight or painful jaw muscles
- Rhythmic contractions of the jaw muscles
- Grinding sounds at night
- Lingering pain in the face
- Lower-jaw swelling caused by clenching
How Night Guards Are Made
Receiving your new mouth guard is a simple process. During an office visit, Dr. Varley will take an impression of your teeth, then send it to a dental laboratory. The lab will create a custom-fitted acrylic night guard based on your impression. Once your custom night guard is ready, you will be called back to the office for a fitting appointment. Any necessary adjustments will be made and then you can take it home.
Cleaning and Storing Your Night Guard
Caring for your night guard involves a simple, but necessary routine. In the morning, following each use, clean your night guard with a toothbrush and toothpaste. When not in use, store your night guard in cold tap water. This will help fight against bacterial growth.
Cleaners that contain alcohol as an ingredient can drastically shorten the lifespan of your night guard and should be avoided. One time per week, if you need a deeper cleaning, you can clean your guard with a denture cleaning tablet.
When storing your night guard in its container, it is necessary to thoroughly dry your night guard to avoid bacterial growth. Keep the container clean as well. Placing a clean night guard into a case that hasn't been cleaned will contaminate the night guard leading to illness or an oral infection. Wash your case out well with soap and hot water before use. Rinse it and allow it to dry before you place your night guard into it.
Night Guard Maintenance
Night guards are made to last, but over time, the grinding/clenching will take its toll. The good news is that the damage is being done to the night guard, which can be remedied, instead of your teeth. When damage is found on your night guard, it's time to purchase a new one. Don't use a damaged night guard. Damaged night guards can cause small pieces to dislodge which could cause injury.
Bring your custom night guard to your regular dental checkups so Dr. Varley can examine it and ensure that it is performing well. Dr. Varley can provide additional advice for caring for your night guard.
Call for a Consultation
Dr. Varley and his staff practice prevention first when caring for your teeth. We do all we can so we can safeguard your oral health. Night guards work to prevent oral injuries from teeth grinding. Learn how night guards will preserve your mouth healthy and by calling for a consultation today at 303-872-7907.