Bruxism, the clenching and grinding of teeth, can be linked to various factors, including stress, anxiety, abnormal bites, missing teeth, and other potential underlying causes. The exact causes of bruxism are not well understood, and emerging evidence suggests potential links to sleep disorders like sleep apnea. While the exact triggers remain under investigation, it is crucial to prevent the associated damage and side effects of bruxism.

One effective preventive measure against bruxism is the use of nightguards. Nightguards are dental appliances made from soft plastic or rubber. They are custom-fitted to your upper teeth (or lower teeth, in some cases) and are worn at night while you sleep. Here's why nightguards are essential and how they can help:

What Is A Nightguard & Why Might I Need One?

A nightguard is a type of mouthguard worn during sleep to protect against the damage and discomfort caused by teeth grinding and clenching, also known as bruxism.

Bruxism is often an unconscious behavior, and many individuals may not be aware they have it until they experience symptoms or their dentist identifies damage.

Common symptoms of teeth grinding and clenching include:

  • Worn, cracked, or broken teeth
  • Jaw pain, neck pain, back muscle pain, or tenderness
  • Facial pain, earaches, headaches
  • Increased tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet stimuli
  • Difficulty sleeping
Over-The-Counter Nightguards vs. Custom Nightguards

While over-the-counter nightguards are available, custom nightguards provided by your dentist are highly recommended. Custom nightguards are created from an exact model of your mouth, made through a mold of your teeth, ensuring they fit your mouth precisely.

Here are some key reasons custom nightguards are superior to over-the-counter options:

  • Comfort: Custom nightguards are more comfortable and less likely to impede speech or breathing.
  • Fit: They fit your mouth perfectly, reducing the risk of slipping, discomfort, or gum irritation.
  • Effectiveness: A comfortable nightguard is more likely to be worn consistently, providing better protection.

After your custom nightguard has been fabricated, you'll try it on for fit at your dentist's office, and any necessary adjustments can be made to ensure it's comfortable.

Bruxism Prevention

Preventing bruxism, even during waking hours, is essential. Some people may clench their teeth unconsciously while awake without realizing it. Once you're aware of this habit, you can take steps to break it.

Set reminders around your home or workplace, or on your mobile phone, to consciously relax your face and jaw muscles. When your jaw is relaxed, your lips should be closed but your teeth should be apart, with the biting surfaces of your back teeth not touching.

If you suspect you may be clenching your teeth while sleeping, inform your dentist, and they can check for signs and symptoms. Even if you don't experience discomfort or pain, your dentist or hygienist may be able to detect signs of clenching based on your mouth's condition. Early prevention and intervention can help avoid future dental issues associated with bruxism. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!