Do I need a nightguard?

Have you been told that you grind your teeth in your sleep? Do you suffer from chronic headaches or jaw pain because you clench your teeth? If so, a custom night guard might be the answer. Wearing a mouth guard for jaw clenching and teeth grinding can help protect your teeth from excessive wear and provide relief from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain.

What Is Bruxism?

Bruxism is the medical term for grinding or clenching your teeth and jaws. Grinding refers to moving the jaw back and forth. Clenching refers to biting down with excessive force for long periods of time. Bruxism is a common condition and normally occurs during sleep or times of stress. Many people do not even know that they grind their teeth in their sleep until they are told by their sleep partner or dentist.

Over time, grinding teeth in sleep causes extensive damage to the structure and enamel of the teeth, which can lead to decay and increased sensitivity. It can also cause headaches, disrupt your sleep, and cause pain in the jaw, face, and neck.

What Is Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome?

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome refers to problems affecting the function of the muscles of the jaw or the temporomandibular joint that connects the jaw to the skull. Injuries to the jaw and bruxism are common causes of temporomandibular joint syndrome. Symptoms include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw, neck, shoulders, or around the ear
  • Difficulty chewing or opening the mouth wide
  • A popping or clicking sound when you open or close your mouth
  • A jaw that seems to get stuck or locked in a position
  • Swelling on the side of the face
  • A sudden uncomfortable bite

What Is a Custom Night Guard?

An oral night guard looks similar to the trays used for teeth whitening and sits over the teeth to protect them from grinding or clenching. A teeth protector for sleeping does not actually stop you from clenching or grinding your teeth; however, it does shield and cushion the teeth from excessive wear and helps re-establish the natural space between the upper and lower teeth.

Although a night guard is not the only treatment for bruxism or temporomandibular joint pain, it is an affordable, convenient, and non-invasive treatment option. A properly fitted night guard shifts the jaw and teeth into proper alignment, which can alleviate jaw tension, headaches, pain, and other symptoms of temporomandibular joint syndrome.

Why Is It Important to Get a Mouth Guard for Jaw Clenching?

Ignoring your bruxism symptoms can lead to serious dental issues requiring expensive treatments. For example, bruxism is a leading cause of root canals. Individuals who grind their teeth can experience up to 2 millimetres of enamel erosion by their 20s, which increases the risk for cavities. Jaw clenching can subject the jaw and teeth to as much as 40 minutes of massive force per hour, which can set the stage for jaw and muscle pain.

At Leigh Dental Centre, we strive to make your visit as comfortable and stress-free as possible. If you are experiencing tooth damage, jaw pain, or other symptoms of bruxism, call today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced dentists. If your dentist determines that your issues are caused by teeth grinding or clenching, we will help you find the right night guard or bruxism treatment for you. Call us today at 01702 472929 or book an appointment online.

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