You probably know that athletes use mouth guards to help protect their teeth from damage while playing sports, but you might not realize the ways that even non-athletes can benefit from the use of a mouth guard, especially when you sleep.
Many patients complain of headaches, shoulder and neck pain, and pain in the face when they wake up in the morning. Many of these patients are surprised to discover that these symptoms are due to bruxism. Bruxism is a common condition that involves grinding the teeth and clenching the jaw. Bruxism sufferers most commonly grind their teeth when they sleep, but clenching can occur throughout the day. Symptoms may result in tooth damage, pain, and insomnia, and while stress plays a primary role, several lifestyle factors can also contribute the occurrence of bruxism. Night guards protect your teeth and can even inhibit the tendency to clench and grind your teeth while you sleep.
Night guards are also used to manage jaw pain and lockjaw, and can be used as treatment for TMJ to minimize the effects of popping and clicking of the jaw. Patients experiencing pain and discomfort that makes it difficult for them to get enough sleep can use a night guard to alleviate and possibly eliminate insomnia. Night guards are used for many reasons including:
Stop Tooth Damage
Continued grinding and clenching of your teeth may result in chipped and broken teeth or damaged fillings. Grinding can cause stress cracks and wear away your enamel, making your teeth sensitive and more prone to cavities. Using a night guard to prevent teeth from grinding against one another allows you to avoid expensive restoration procedures and possible tooth loss.
Minimize Facial Pain and Headaches
Headaches, toothaches, and facial pain are common symptoms of bruxism (grinding and clenching) and temporomandibular disorders (TMD). Sufferers may wake up with muscle fatigue in the face, a sore jaw, ear aches, neck pain, and even spasms in the neck, shoulders and facial muscles. Use of a night guard can help to alleviate or even eliminate these symptoms. Personalized mouth guards can also help to alleviate TMJ-related jaw pain.
Reduce Stress and Tension
A custom night guard can reduce stress in your jaw joints and muscles. By reducing this stress and relieving the pain associated with it, you can talk, laugh, and eat without constant pain and discomfort, which can alleviate stress both day and night. Reducing stress can minimize or even eliminate the habit of grinding and clenching your teeth and allow you to potentially avoid symptoms altogether.
Minimizing or eliminating the symptoms of bruxism or other jaw problems may allow you to experience less pain and improve your ability to get quality, restful sleep. A night guard can be fitted to change the position of your jaw to promote muscle relaxation and create a sense of relief in the jaw, encouraging you to rest and to enjoy healthier sleep patterns.
Stop the Snoring
Bruxism and jaw problems often cause breathing problems that contribute to snoring when you sleep. Patients who snore as a symptom of clenching and grinding their teeth can use a night guard to position the mouth in order to breathe better and reduce snoring. You should consult with your doctor if you feel like you might stop breathing at night. This could be the sign of a more serious sleep disorder.
It takes two visits to your dentist to be fitted for your mouth guard: one to make a mold of your mouth used to create the guard, and a second to pick up your guard and check that it fits properly. Your dentist will tell you how to use and care for your guard when you pick it up.
Talk to your dentist today about protecting your teeth and improving your life with a custom night guard! At Downtown Dental we create custom Mouth Guards at our Charlottesville dental clinic. Contact us today and we will be happy to help!