Does your jaw feel stiff or do you have difficulty opening your mouth wide? Are your teeth sensitive to cold drinks? Do your jaw muscles feel tired or sore in the morning?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be grinding your teeth at night or you may be clenching your teeth. People with nighttime grinding habits wear away their tooth enamel much faster than those without these habits. Eventually, your teeth may be worn down, loosened or you may develop gum disease.
In addition to relieving head, neck, jaw joint and shoulder pains, treating bruxism and clenching is cost effective compared to ignoring the condition and exposing teeth to continued grinding. One way to treat this condition is with a nightguard or occlusal guard.
Ask us if a nightguard can help to provide relief from grinding or clenching.
What are night guards?
These small pieces of plastic are designed to fit securely around your teeth. They are actually quite small and can fit in the palm of your hand. Typically, they are made of clear plastic, so they will not stand out when you wear them. This is excellent news for those who are self-conscious about appearance but want to save their teeth. To see what one looks like, visit our Livonia dentist office.
Do I really need to wear a night guard?
If you are grinding your teeth at night – yes, you do. At Andrew P. Sofen, DDS, we believe in the value of preventative care, and night guards are one of the ways we can prevent you from damaging your teeth. Since you only get one set of permanent teeth, allowing them to be ground down is unwise. The discomfort you will suffer and the cost you will incur to repair your teeth is simply not worth skipping out on this easy, preventative measure. We know that not all of our Livonia, MI patients enjoy the idea of wearing a guard, and we will not recommend doing so unless we are certain that it will be useful in solving your problems.
Why do most people wear a night guard?
The exact reason you need one will be determined during your dental exam. Typically, they are worn to:
If you have paid to repair your teeth or have had cosmetic work done to improve your appearance, teeth grinding could reverse all that the work. Even if your teeth have never needed repair, grinding can cause your teeth to chip, crack, or simply wear down. This translates into direct discomfort as the teeth flatten, and your dentin or nerves could become exposed. This can lead to feelings of sensitivity when you eat or drink. If this type of damage continues, you could end up with gum recession and even loose teeth. If you use a night guard, your upper and lower teeth will be unable to grind against each other and the potential damage will be avoided.
Nighttime teeth grinding can cause severe headaches and tooth pain in the morning. If you are regularly waking up in pain or feeling uncomfortable, this can be a sign that you need to wear a guard while sleeping. At Andrew P. Sofen, DDS, we have found that many of our patients feel significantly better after wearing their guard for just a few days. The key is to continue wearing it every night. While some grinding is caused by stress or tension, there is no way to tell exactly what causes people to grind their teeth or to stop the body from attempting it. This is why continued use of the guard is necessary.
Severe grinding or jaw clenching can lead to TMJ disorder. This can be incredibly uncomfortable, typically starting out as a sore jaw in the morning with the occasional headache. If you experience these symptoms or have face pain, neck pain, or your jaw hurts while eating, call 734-427-8111 to schedule an appointment with our Livonia office right away. It is critical that you treat TMJ early by wearing a night guard and preventing your teeth from clenching or grinding in your sleep. Otherwise, TMJ can become severe. At this stage, some people find it difficult to even open their mouth, let alone eat or speak normally.
Are they comfortable to wear?
Yes, we have a dental lab create custom nightguards that match your measurements and exact specifications. The material we use is durable, yet comfortable enough to wear at night, without interrupting your sleep.
Can night guards help with sleep apnea?
There are oral appliances that are used to treat sleep apnea. This is different from a standard night guard. However, we can provide you with more information when you visit our dentist office.
How long will my night guard last?
If you take good care of your night guard, there is no reason that it should stop working. That is, if you buy one made of strong material. The type of guard that you can buy in the store is not designed to last forever and will typically give up after six months to a year. A dentist-made night guard can last for years, sometimes even decades. At Andrew P. Sofen, DDS, we also recommend that you store it in a safe place. We will give you a hard case, and that is the ideal place to keep it. Most patients put their night guards in a case and keep it in their nightstand drawer. Out of the way, it is unlikely to get lost or taken by a child or pet. If you travel a lot, you may want to have two created so you can keep one at home and one in your carry-on bag.
What should I do to take care of my night guard?
Another way to keep your guard in good shape is to brush it regularly. Cleaning it is relatively easy. All you need to do is brush it with a soft toothbrush, toothpaste, and lukewarm water. This should remove the plaque that has built up on it. Additionally, you can try a special dental solution and soak it once per week. Be sure to dry it afterwards to prevent any bacteria buildup.
To learn more about night guards and how they can help you, call our Livonia dental office to schedule an appointment. You can reach us at (734) 522-5520.