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Why you might need a mouth guard for teeth grinding

Many people unknowingly grind their teeth during the night or clench them throughout the day. This can result in major problems including jaw and tooth pain. If you think you may be experiencing these symptoms it is highly recommended that you consult your dentist to determine whether a mouth guard will help you.

What is a mouth guard and night guard?

A mouth guard for teeth grinding is a flexible device that's worn over your teeth. You have seent them used by many athletes to prevent damage to the mouth and teeth during athletic activities. Needless to say they are also used by those who clench or grind their teeth, either at night or during the day.

They are simple to use as you just place it into your mouth prior to going to bed, with little to no complications to breathing or sleeping. Your dentist will tell you whether you need an upper or lower set or both in some cases.

Why You Might Want to Wear One

A mouth guard can be worn for many reasons. If your mouth tends to hurt in the mornings, it could be because you clench your teeth together throughout the night or because you grind them. In this case, you would wear a soft mouth guard, which would prevent your teeth from becoming damaged due to grinding. While you could still clench your teeth, the softness of the material between the teeth can help with the pain.

Many times, people aren't aware that they grind their teeth, though they know that they experience jaw pain or tooth pain upon waking up. Your dentist will be able to determine whether you are a suitable candidate for night guards and it may be recommended to wear one to reduce impact to your teeth.

Unfortunately, you will still grind your teeth while wearing the mouth guard, however, the impact will be on the mouth-guard instead of your teeth and jaw. Over time, the impacted areas of the guard will wear down and show your dentist exactly which teeth are being affected, for further treatment if necessary.

Risks of Grinding Teeth

According to the Mayo Clinic, bruxism (teeth grinding) doesn't cause severe problems. However, if you grind your teeth for many years, it can lead to many other problems, such as facial pain, tension headaches and damage to the teeth. If you have had expensive dental work, such as braces, restorations, crowns and others, you could severely damage the work that was done, and reverse any issues they were correcting. In severe cases, the work will have to be redone, which can be more costly and may not be covered by insurance.

Benefits of Using a Custom-Fitted Mouth Guard

The primary benefit of using a custom-fitted mouth guard is that it will be made specifically for your teeth. No one else will be able to use that guard, because it won't fit them properly. Therefore, your unique mouth shape will be used and you won't have to worry about causing more problems to the mouth.

Differences Between Store-bought and Custom-Fit Versions

There are three main types of mouthguards, including custom-fit, boil-and-bite and stock options. The stock protectors are already formed and come ready for you to wear. They are inexpensive and can be found at many department or sporting goods stores. However, they cannot be adjusted and can make it difficult to breathe.

Boil-and-bite options are also available at many retail stores and is made from a thermoplastic material. You will bring the kit home, place the device into boiling water to soften it, then once it is slightly cooled, you’ll place it in your mouth and bite down hard to shape the guard to your teeth. This can work slightly better than stock options, but are still not recommended by most dentists.

Custom-fit options are made specifically for your teeth in a professional laboratory. Your dentist will make impressions of your teeth and will mold the mouth guard over your mouth model. Though not as cheap as store bought options, the benefits far outweigh the cost as they allow you to breathe properly during sleep.

To learn more, please visit WebMD here:

There is a pretty good write up HERE on WebMD about the use of mouth guards, but if you think you might need a mouth guard, or even if you’re not sure, you should consult your dentist during your next visit. If you’re in the Dallas metro area, don’t hesitate to stop by or give us a call to setup a quick appointment.