If you’re one who wakes up with a sore mouth from grinding and clenching teeth at night, you are not alone. In fact, millions of Americans grind their teeth while sleeping, which can affect your dental health and overall quality of life. Fortunately, once the root cause of your grinding is discovered, most of the time it can be treated and you can be on your way to a healthier smile.
It is unnecessary to continue to suffer from pain from teeth grinding. The most common form of treatment for teeth grinding is a custom mouth guard because it helps protect your jaw, teeth, and soft tissues from injury. A mouthguard is one of the most affordable and easy types of treatment to stop teeth grinding and help prevent your teeth from any further damage. Learn about the different types of mouthguards and how one can benefit you.
What are the common signs of teeth grinding?
Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a very common condition when you clench your jaw tightly together and your teeth shift against each other. This motion can create discomfort and severe pain, but in some patients it goes completely unnoticed. The most commonly seen symptoms from untreated teeth grinding includes:
- Worn down enamel and flat teeth
- Neck and ear pain
- TMJ pain
- Fractured or cracked teeth
- Teeth that are loose or sensitive
- Worn down or fractured restorations like crowns
- Sleep disruption or sleep apnea like symptoms
What is the cause of teeth grinding at night?
Bruxism is caused by stress, personality type or medication. Some people suffer from clenching because of a medical condition called sleep apnea. There is a direct link between obstructive sleep apnea and chronic teeth grinding due to a narrow upper airway and jaw that does not allow for enough oxygen flow. When people grind their teeth, they are moving their lower jaw forward to increase that oxygen flow. This can also occur from enlarged adenoids and tonsils, a restricted tongue tie or a narrow palate caused by prolonged finger sucking or a tongue thrust.
How can I treat my teeth grinding?
Once your underlying condition is found, teeth grinding can be treated and monitored. The best way to find out is by getting evaluated by a dental professional. A mouthguard can help stop teeth grinding by preventing your upper and lower teeth from causing injury by flattening down enamel and causing sensitivity and discomfort. Still, chronic bruxism may be a sign of a sleep disorder and therefore treating the symptom without treating the condition is not always beneficial long-term.
Some of the most commonly offered treatments for bruxism that can help alleviate symptoms and improve sleep.
A custom fit mouthguard is one of the most cost effective ways to manage teeth grinding at night. It prevents your upper and lower teeth from grinding and provides a soft cushion to avoid strong forces distributed to your teeth and jaw. While a nightguard cannot correct the root cause of teeth grinding, it is the best first step to prevent further damage.
A mouthguard is also beneficial because it can help relax muscles that cause muscle strain and extreme soreness. A mouthguard is safe and non-invasive compared to other forms of treatment for pain.
What are the differences between types of nightguards?
Many people do not realize, but not all night guards are created equally. There are three types of night guards to help stop teeth grinding and while they all share the same goal to protect the teeth, there are clear differences between them.
- Stock night guard: A stock store bought mouthguard is a great option for many because it is the most affordable and easily available at any sports or convenient store. Unfortunately, it offers the least amount of protection because it is a one-fits-all mold and does not support the jaw or teeth accurately.
- Boil and bite: This type of night guard is inexpensive, but provides a bit more protection than an over-the-counter stock night guard. Boil and bite mouthguards work by heating the product up and then molding it to your teeth and jaw. They are a bit more comfortable, but are not as durable as a custom mouthguard.
- Custom night guard: A custom night guard is made professionally by a lab and is custom fit to your mouth. A dentist will take a mold of your mouth by using a scanner or traditional putty impression to create a model of your mouth. The mouthguard is then made to fit your exact teeth and can be designed in various colors or materials. It is made to your needs and provides the greatest support and comfort because it is stable and durable. A custom fit mouthguard provides a more proper fit to protect your teeth and jawbone compared to an over-the-counter and boil-and-bite mouthguard.
If you notice pain in the morning after sleeping or your teeth have become flatter and are losing their natural shape, it is best to schedule an appointment to discuss your teeth grinding habit. A custom fit mouthguard is a simple treatment that can stop teeth grinding and provide better sleep and an improvement to your overall health.