If you are unconsciously grinding your teeth or clenching at night, it is referred to as bruxism. This common habit can wear down your teeth and contribute to headaches, sensitive teeth and collapsed bite. A dental night guard can provide you with relief from that and help you stop grinding your teeth! This custom-made made appliance is DIFFERENT from athletic sports mouth guards that you might get for protecting your teeth while performing sports or recreational activities since those tend to be more focused on protecting your jaws and teeth from external blows or sharp trauma.
A properly fitting occlusal guard can be comfortably worn at night an eliminate the excess wearing on the chewing surfaces of your teeth. If your teeth don’t fit together properly, the heavy chewing forces will contribute to flexing of teeth and can cause grooves to occur at the gumline – called abfraction lesions. It can also cause loosening of the teeth contributing to periodontal disease.
What is TMD?
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) can make eating, talking, or even just opening your jaw very uncomfortable. Characterized by clicking or popping or swelling in the jaw area, this can be a very debilitating condition for some people. It could be from an uneven bite, unusual sleep habits (i.e. resting your hand under your jaw), constant stress, trauma or a degenerative process that disrupts the smooth opening and closing of the jaw bones and the entire disk and muscle assembly. In rarer cases, calcifications on one of the sides of the joint can build up and rub against the other causing discomfort.
What are symptoms of TMD and how is it treated?
A night guard can also help with TMJ symptoms such as ear pain, muscle pain, aching in the jaw joints, neck pain, and headaches. The purpose of this guard is to limit the teeth from touching. Obviously, we need to talk, eat and brush our teeth, so often wearing the appliance at night will be easier, especially if it is properly fitted to your mouth.
Are there any “home remedies” for TMD?
Minimizing pressure on your jaws, limiting resting your chin on your hand, limiting talking throughout the day, and being cautious opening too wide will prevent some of the symptoms of TMD. Lifestyle changes such as limiting your stress, applying heat or cold packs, and minimizing chewing hard foods can also help with some TMJ/TMD symptoms.
Which “type of night guard” should I get?
This is a more detailed conversation that your dentist, Dr. Avi Israeli of Wall, NJ can have with you as it all depends upon what the ultimate goal is. There are many different types and not one is best for everyone. In addition, we should assess you for snoring or sleep apnea prior to making a night guard so that we aren’t CONTRIBUTING to the problem by blocking your airway further. Creating the right appliance that works best for you takes experience and knowledge gained from doing this for several years.