Teeth grinding, officially called bruxism, is a common problem in many adults and even more children. It’s difficult to pinpoint how many people have this issue, as it goes undiagnosed and ignored when it’s mild.
But when the symptoms of bruxism, like headaches, jaw pain, neck discomfort, and teeth sensitivity, don’t go away on their own, they continue to worsen. Eventually, it’s difficult to pretend nothing is wrong.
Jaw clenching and teeth grinding creates a lot of damage to your overall health. However, the solution is frequently an easy fix — wear a night guard!
How can such a small device bring you such incredible relief? Read on to learn about the benefits of a correctly-fitted night guard. (This blog by JS Dental Lab explains the importance of ensuring your night guard fits right!)
1. Enamel Protection
Just as constant exposure to water erodes rocks and beaches, long-term grinding leads to enamel erosion. Your teeth are stronger than bone but not unbreakable, and this constant pressure wears away the layers of enamel.
When those protective layers are too thin, the sensitive dentin and nerves in your tooth system are exposed, leading to teeth and gum sensitivity and decay. Without help, they can chip and crack and damage your existing fillings and crowns.
Wearing your night guard keeps your enamel safe from the wear and tear that comes with bruxism.
2. Jaw Pain Reduction
Bruxism is the behavior that involves clenching your jaw tightly and then using those same muscles to grind your teeth. This movement can go on for hours as you’re asleep, putting a substantial strain on your jaw muscles.
Worse, the tiny joint responsible for jaw movement, your TMJ (temporomandibular joint), is under pressure throughout this period. Although it’s built to withstand normal jaw movement, it’s very delicate. Any overuse can cause the joint to swell or dislocate, resulting in serious jaw discomfort. Without proper care, this can turn into a painful temporomandibular joint disorder.
Give your jaw muscles a much-needed break they deserve, and protect your TMJ by wearing a night guard when you sleep.
3. Headache Reduction
Are you waking up in the middle of the night or in the morning with a dull headache, and nothing seems to help? This is a typical sign of bruxism.
Because of the ongoing clenching and grinding, part of your head is always under pressure while you’re asleep. Your jaw muscles need to relax and rest, but instead, they’re overworked and overstressed, leading to the tightness that causes headaches.
A night guard gives these muscles a chance to relax. Your jaw can’t get the traction it needs from connecting your upper and lower teeth, so it doesn’t squeeze as tightly or grind. You may notice relief from your headaches as early as the first night you wear your guard!
4. Sleep Improvement
Another classic sign of teeth grinding is fatigue and restless slumber. If you’re tossing and turning throughout the night or waking up tired for seemingly no reason, you’re probably clenching and grinding.
As your jaw muscles do their thing, you still feel pain, even though you’re asleep and you don’t notice it. Your brain uses your sleep time to reset and recharge, fixing any damage done to your cells from the previous day. But it, too, is overworked, and while you’re subconsciously distracted from the pain of the grinding, you aren’t getting the quality sleep you need.
It’s also possible that you’re not sleeping well because you’re snoring. When you clench your teeth, your breathing airway is narrowed, making it harder to breathe correctly. This leads to snoring.
Night guards keep the upper and lower jaws separated, leaving your airway unobstructed and preventing the grinding that was causing your restless sleep. Within a few days, you’ll probably notice more energy, better mental clarity, and less pain and discomfort, all from wearing your custom-made night guard.
(And, as a bonus, your partner will appreciate the extra rest they get from not listening to you snore!)
Figuring out what’s causing your symptoms, whether they’re neck and shoulder pain, ongoing morning headaches, teeth sensitivity, or something else, is the first step in fixing them.
When you have any or all of these going on in your body, there’s a good chance you have bruxism. It’s a good idea to visit your dentist for an official diagnosis, but in the meantime, a custom-fit night guard can resolve most of your symptoms and prevent further damage from happening to your body.