Do You Really Need a Night Guard?

If you’ve been told you’re grinding or gnashing your teeth or clenching your jaw at night, a condition called sleep bruxism, then you probably do need a night guard.

What's the Big Deal about Bruxism?

Often, sleep bruxism causes daytime pain, such as sore jaw muscles, tension headaches, and migraines. These are obvious reasons to take action to prevent bruxism or at least reduce its effects. But for those who grind or clench their teeth at night and don’t notice any issues during the day, you might wonder what the big deal is about sleep bruxism, if it isn’t bothering you.
Well, apart from often causing pain, clenching and grinding during the night puts a lot of extra wear and tear on your pearly whites. As a result, bruxism can lead to serious oral health concerns, such as:

  • Premature loss of enamel
  • Extreme sensitivity to temperature and pressure
  • Fractured teeth
  • Prematurely receding gums
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), informally called lockjaw

What Causes Sleep Bruxism?

There’s no one reason some people grind their teeth at night. Sleep bruxism seems to be most strongly correlated with stress and anxiety, but not everyone who’s stressed has bruxism. Additional contributing factors include:

  • Genetics
  • A crooked bite (malocclusion)
  • Certain medications
  • Caffeine consumption
  • Alcohol or nicotine use
  • Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders
  • Neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease

Do You Really Need a Night Guard to Fix Bruxism?

Unfortunately, there’s actually no absolute remedy for sleep bruxism. For relief, you might try taking steps to reduce your stress level, especially before bedtime. If you have a crooked bite, taking measures to correct the alignment of your teeth could reduce your tendency to clench or grind your teeth at night. If you’re suffering from sleep apnea, you should first seek treatment for your sleeping disorder.

Most of these remedies won’t completely eliminate sleep bruxism. So even though wearing a night guard won’t cure your problem, it’s the best way to prevent the harmful side effects of sleep bruxism. These dental appliances, whether purchased at a pharmacy or designed specifically for you in our dental office, will reduce the side effects of grinding and gnashing teeth in the night. Plus, some designs make it more difficult to clench your jaw, too.

If you suspect you have bruxism, we recommend scheduling an appointment at Schaffer Dental Excellence right away.

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