Experiencing jaw pain or teeth grinding? Try a night guard, a dental appliance that eases issues from bruxism. Learn about the benefits, types, and finding the right fit for improved sleep and dental health.
What are night guards?Night guards serve as dental devices aimed at safeguarding your teeth and easing jaw pain caused by bruxism, a common condition involving unconscious teeth grinding or clenching during sleep. This can result in jaw soreness, headaches, and tooth damage. Night guards act as a protective barrier, cushioning between your upper and lower teeth to prevent grinding and reduce pressure on your jaw joints. Two main types exist: over-the-counter (OTC) night guards, available at pharmacies with a generic fit, and custom-made night guards, personally crafted by a dentist based on impressions of your teeth for a precise fit and enhanced protection.
Why use a night guard?
- Protects your teeth: Acts as a barrier to prevent tooth enamel damage, sensitivity, fractures, and tooth loss during grinding.
- Alleviates jaw pain: Reduces strain on jaw joints caused by bruxism, easing jaw pain, soreness, and lowering the risk of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
- Reduces headaches: Minimizes tension and muscle strain, especially in the morning, potentially decreasing the frequency and intensity of headaches from bruxism.
- Improves sleep quality: Creates a cushioning effect, reducing noise and impact during teeth grinding, promoting a more peaceful and restful sleep for you and your sleep partner.
- Prevents tooth sensitivity: Night guards act as a protective barrier, preventing further enamel erosion and reducing tooth sensitivity caused by grinding.
- Provides stress relief: Serves as a physical reminder to relax the jaw and reduce tension, helping manage stress and promoting overall well-being.
- Cost-effective long-term solution: Custom-made night guards, while initially pricier, are more durable and offer better protection than OTC options, potentially saving money by preventing costly dental treatments for tooth damage and jaw-related issues.
Who can benefit from using a night guard?Night guards offer benefits to individuals dealing with teeth grinding or jaw pain. Consider a night guard if you:
- Teeth grinding or clenching during sleep: Experience sore jaw muscles, tooth sensitivity, or notice tooth wear upon waking up.
- Jaw pain or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD): Seek relief from jaw pain or have been diagnosed with TMD; night guards can reduce strain on the jaw joints.
- Frequent morning headaches: Wake up with regular headaches, especially in the temples or behind the eyes, as this may be related to teeth grinding.
- Stress and anxiety: Notice jaw clenching or teeth grinding during stressful periods, as night guards can help break the habit and provide stress relief.
Proper care and maintenance of night guardsFor optimal protection and durability of your night guard, follow these care and maintenance tips:
- Rinse before and after use: Cleanse your night guard with cool water before inserting and after use to eliminate debris, saliva, bacteria, and plaque.
- Clean with mild soap or denture cleaner: Use a soft toothbrush or a designated night guard brush to clean your night guard regularly with a mild soap or denture cleaner. Avoid abrasive toothpaste.
- Store properly: Keep your night guard in a clean, dry case when not in use to safeguard it from bacteria and prevent damage.
- Avoid hot water or harsh chemicals: Prevent warping by avoiding exposure to hot water, and refrain from using harsh chemicals or alcohol-based mouthwashes, as they can harm the material.
- Regularly check for wear and tear: Inspect your night guard for cracks, chips, or changes in fit regularly. If you observe any issues, consult your dentist for a replacement.