28 Feb How a Night Guard Can Help You Sleep Better
Tooth grinding while sleeping is not uncommon and can be caused by jaw misalignment, missing teeth, illness, or situational stress. Bruxism, a more severe and constant state of teeth grinding can result in a range of physical issues from pain in the jaw joint to soreness in the mouth; headache and restless sleep as well as other discomforts that may affect energy levels and compromise the immune system.
Wearing a properly fitted mouthguard protects teeth and provides a range of benefits that improve the quality of sleep. Here’s how a mouthguard can help you sleep better at night.
What is Bruxism or Teeth Grinding?
Teeth grinding or bruxism, happens subconsciously during sleep and puts tremendous pressure on the muscles and joints surrounding the jaw. As the upper and lower jaw move back and forth, friction is created when the teeth rub together. The result is waking with sore jaw joints, headaches, or sensitive teeth. Over time this friction wears down the protective enamel coating exposing teeth to cavity-causing bacteria. The thinner enamel also makes teeth more vulnerable to chipping, damage to crowns and fillings, and increased sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures.
What is a Mouthguard or Night Guard?
A mouthguard is a lightweight and pliable thermoplastic material. Mouthguards worn by athletes are made of a thicker material to protect gums and teeth from damage. Another type of mouthguard, called a night guard, is made of a thinner special plastic material that offers durability with a structure that can sustain the strong bite force and grinding of teeth, while at the same time relieving stress on the teeth.
The night guard positions your jaw so that the jaw muscles relax. The thin material creates a protective barrier, reducing tension while preventing the top and bottom teeth from wearing on the enamel. In addition to protecting the enamel, a night guard has several other benefits that can contribute to a night of sounder sleep.
Headaches – The movement of our jaws while we sleep can cause muscle tension. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorders is a long-term condition that can cause acute discomfort to the jaw joint if not addressed. TMJ, bruxism, and teeth grinding can cause temporal headaches that last throughout the day.
Bruxism – Bruxism affects 8 percent of adults and one-third of children and has been found as a symptom of a more severe condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). About one-quarter of people with bruxism also have OSA which has been linked to a range of chronic diseases later in life. Using a night guard may improve the symptoms of OSA.
Snoring – Snoring may not be related to bruxism or teeth grinding but wearing a night guard has been shown to help reduce snoring. A fitted night guard is designed to create a small cushion for the jaw which allows for additional air flow. For some, this additional intake of air reduces symptoms of snoring.
Buying a Night Guard
The most important step in wearing a mouthguard or night guard is custom fit. Nearly every mass retailer or pharmacy store offers a range of night guards. A night guard that is not specifically designed for the shape of your jaw and teeth may reduce the overall benefit or cause further damage to the mouth, gums, and jaw.
A professional night guard created by the dentist is made according to the patient’s needs. It considers jaw size, the severity of grinding, if the patient wears braces, and other considerations. The process is simple with the dentist taking a plaster mold of the patient’s upper teeth. The dentist will then check your bite to ensure fit. A properly made night guard can last for an extended period of time. It is a cost-saving compared to the damage caused to teeth by jaw clenching and teeth grinding.
Schedule an appointment to discuss if a nightguard is right for you. We want to you sleep tight and smile bright!
Dr. Dragana Angelova
Imperial Dental Center
“We love to see you smile”