Nightguards for Bruxism

Family Dentistry

Nightguards for Bruxism

What is Bruxism?

Some patients react to stress by grinding their teeth unconsciously during the day or, more commonly, while sleeping. This constant pressure and grinding motion can harm teeth, as well as muscles and tissues in and around the jaw. The condition, known as bruxism, can be remedied with a nightguard.

The Facts About Clenching & Grinding

Common symptoms of bruxism include a sore jaw, headaches, or earaches. Causes vary, but may include stress, anxiety, tension, misaligned teeth, posture, diet, sleeping habits, and other factors. Bruxism occurs in about one-third of the population.

Individuals who react to stress with anger, pain, frustration, aggression, or competition are commonly affected. People with bruxism may occasionally have other biting habits, such as biting fingernails, pencils, lips, or the insides of their cheeks.

Constant clenching and grinding of the teeth can cause not only the symptoms already mentioned, but it may also contribute to TMJ (temporomandibular joint) dysfunction, which has a long list of side effects associated with pain in the head and neck. Teeth grinding together excessively and consistently will result in surface wear over time, which can cause numerous other dental problems. It’s not uncommon for people to notice their teeth getting sharper or shorter, especially in the front. And as teeth wear down severely, they are more prone to chipping or breaking.

Insomnia, eating disorders, and depression can result from bruxism if left untreated.

A Solid Solution

How can you stop an unconscious habit? A thorough evaluation will allow us to check your teeth, tissues, and muscles. If we determine that you suffer from bruxism, we can offer an orthodontic appliance, also called a nightguard or splint, to prevent grinding and clenching, or lessen their adverse effects. Many types of nightguards exist and patients react differently to the various styles. Hard nightguards are great for protecting teeth from wear or breakage but they are not very cushioning. So if you suffer from headaches or sore joints, you may want to try a soft guard that offers more “shock absorption”. If one appliance does not work, another may. In many cases, simply wearing a nightguard will eliminate the problem. However, if the condition persists, we can prescribe alternative therapies to help correct the issue, or even refer you to a TMJ specialist if necessary.

Some practices that can relieve symptoms of bruxism include stress and anxiety management, focused facial relaxation, massage and stretching of face and neck muscles, applying ice or wet heat, proper rest, eating soft foods, and hydrating the body. If your teeth are already damaged because of bruxism, or if we find TMJ to be a factor, we can discuss ways to repair the damage and prevent future problems as well.