Night Guards

Custom Night Guards For Treating Teeth Grinding & Bruxism Symptoms

While grinding your teeth at night may be annoying your spouse, it is also doing a lot of damage. Grinding and clenching may be leading to pain upon waking in the morning, including jaw pain, tooth pain and even headaches. On top of that, grinding and clenching may be doing massive damage to your teeth and jaw.

In order to properly treat bruxism and/or TMJ, you need to have a better understanding of what the signs are, so you can get a better idea of whether you are suffering from these conditions. If so, it’s extremely important to seek the help of your dentist as soon as possible, so they can provide you with a night guard.

What is a Night Guard?

A night guard (also known as an occlusal guard) can be used to keep a patient from grinding and/or clenching their teeth at night. Night guards are plastic guards that helps to stabilize the jaw joints, while also providing protection from the damage caused by clenching and grinding.

Bruxism and Oral Health

When people speak about grinding and/or clenching their teeth, they are speaking about a condition called “bruxism.” While this condition generally occurs at night when someone is sleeping, it can also occur during the daytime. This daytime clenching is generally due to stress.

Sadly, bruxism often goes untreated because it generally happens overnight. Some people are lucky enough to have a spouse that can let them know just how annoying their teeth grinding is, but for others that live alone, it may be difficult to figure out that grinding or clenching is happening at night.

If you notice that you are experiencing tooth pain, jaw pain and/or frequent headaches throughout the day (especially in the morning), it’s time to visit your dentist to see if you are suffering from bruxism. It is extremely important to catch this early, before it leads to TMJ. Even if it doesn’t get to point where it develops into TMJ, bruxism can still do some serious damage to your oral health.

This damage includes:

  • Worn Down Teeth
  • Joint Pain
  • Jaw Pain
  • Cracked Teeth
  • Hearing Loss
  • Tooth Sensitivity
  • Headaches
  • Fractured Teeth

The damage done can range from annoying (headaches) to very serious (cracked teeth). Make sure to visit your dentist as soon as you notice jaw or tooth pain, or frequent headaches. If the issue is bruxism, the symptoms can be treated with a night guard.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)

At a certain point, the damage being done with clenching and grinding can develop into TMJ—or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. This is an extremely serious oral health disorder that can be extremely painful and damaging if it is goes untreated.

Essentially, TMJ is caused when the temporomandibular joint becomes unhinged. This leads to injury and inflammation that not only hurts, but causes a variety of problems with the jaw.

Some of the common causes for TMJ include:

  • Bruxism
  • Arthritis
  • Dislocation of the Cushioning Disc
  • Blunt Force Trauma
  • Whiplash

Whatever the reason, TMJ needs to be treated before serious damage is done. This includes using a night guard to stop the damage being caused.

The Damaging Effects of TMJ

There are a variety of damaging effects that TMJ can cause—most of which being very inconveniencing and painful.

These include:

  • Trouble Chewing
  • Fatigue of the Jaw
  • Lockjaw
  • Popping and Clicking Noises in the Joints of the Jaw
  • Teeth Sensitivity

A sufferer of TMJ may also notice pain in the face, jaw and even neck and shoulders while chewing, speaking or yawning.

Treatment Options

Both bruxism and TMJ are treatable—and the earlier they are treated, the better. Still, if they are allowed to persist for too long, the damage that is done will also need to be treated. For instance, if teeth are cracked due to bruxism, a crown may need to be placed. Still, the damage done by bruxism and TMJ can be treated, and the root problem can be treated with different at-home measures—as well as with a night guard.

Some of the things that you can do to treat bruxism and TMJ at home include:

  • Jaw Relaxation Exercises
  • Cutting Back On Alcoholic Beverages
  • Limiting Caffeine Intake
  • Therapy or Medication for Stress Related Issues

While these techniques may be helpful with treating the root causes of bruxism and TMJ, it is still important to visit the dentist to discuss solutions that will help to avoid trauma to the teeth and jaw. For some patients, bruxism and TMJ can be slowed and even stopped. Until that happens, though, it’s important to keep the teeth and jaw protected. One of the best ways to do this is with the help of a night guard.

Getting a Night Guard

While a night guard will help to treat both bruxism and TMJ, the type of night guard actually differs depending on the specific disorder. A simple, plastic night guard can be used to treat bruxism and protect the teeth and jaw from the clenching and grinding that are associated with bruxism. TMJ, on the other handle, requires a more specialized night guard.

The occlusal guards (night guards) used to treat TMJ are called “splints.” These mouth guards utilize more rigid materials (acrylic) that better position the jaw and raise the bite of the patient.

Not only does this help to resolve the pain that TMJ causes, but it also helps to relieve other symptoms as well.

Keep in mind that both night guards need to be used every night, and need to be properly maintained. A patient should brush their night guard regularly, to ensure plaque doesn’t develop within the night guard.

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Sargon Dental Institute

16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite #350
Encino, CA 91436
(818) 380-9057