17 May The Benefits of Nightguards for Clenching and TMJ Problems
Do you wake up tired, with a headache, or sore jaw? If you answered ‘yes’ you may be experiencing teeth grinding. Over 25 million adults in the U.S. grind their teeth at night. Grinding can have long-term consequences but there is a simple solution that can help. What are the benefits of a nightguard, and do you need one?
Signs You May Be Grinding Your Teeth
How does one know if they are grinding their teeth at night when they are already asleep? There are several signs:
- Tooth pain or sensitivity: Grinding can wear down tooth enamel, causing tooth sensitivity or toothaches.
- Jaw pain or soreness: Waking up with a sore jaw, facial pain, or tension in the muscles around the jaw joint are common symptoms of teeth grinding.
- Headaches and Earaches: Frequent morning headaches, particularly around the temples, can be a result of the muscle tension and pressure caused by teeth grinding.
- Fatigue and disrupted sleep: Grinding can interfere with a restful night’s sleep, causing you to wake up feeling tired or fatigued.
- Worn, flattened, or chipped teeth: Over time, grinding cause wear on the biting surfaces of your teeth, leading to changes in tooth shape or even chipped enamel.
Unaddressed tooth grinding can result in gum recession leaving gums vulnerable to inflammation causing bacteria.
Benefits of a Nightguard
Nightguards are made from a special plastic that fits on the upper teeth. It acts as a barrier between the upper and lower teeth, preventing them from grinding against each other. This helps to minimize the wear and tear caused by clenching and grinding, protecting the tooth enamel from damage, and reducing the risk of tooth fractures. In addition to protecting enamel, nightguards have additional benefits:
- Jaw Joint Relief: Nightguards can help alleviate the symptoms associated with TMJ disorders. By providing a cushioning effect, they reduce the pressure on the jaw joints, allowing the muscles to relax. This can help reduce pain, discomfort, and inflammation.
- Muscle Relaxation: Clenching and grinding the teeth can cause muscle tension and fatigue in the jaw, face, and neck muscles. Nightguards help to relax these muscles by creating a more balanced bite alignment and reducing excessive strain.
- Improved Sleep Quality: People with clenching and TMJ problems often experience disrupted sleep due to discomfort and pain. Nightguards can promote better sleep quality by reducing pain and discomfort, for a more restful sleep.
- Preventative Effects: Using nightguards proactively can prevent damage to teeth and jaw joints. By addressing clenching and grinding early on, the risk of developing more severe dental problems and TMJ disorders in the future can be minimized.
While nightguards provide symptomatic relief, they do not address the underlying causes of clenching and TMJ problems. It’s important to address the root causes, such as stress, misalignment of teeth, or other contributing factors. Schedule an appointment with your dentist for a checkup and personalized treatment plan.
Getting a Nightguard
While retail stores offer nightguards, they have not been designed for the shape of your jaw and may cause further damage. A nightguard created by a dentist considers jaw size, tooth positioning, and severity of grinding. The process is easy with the dental hygienist taking a mold of your upper teeth. When cared for, a nightguard can last for a long time.
Sleep Well Tonight
When sleep is interrupted or you wake with a headache and facial tension, it’s time to make a call.
Dr. Dragana Angelova
Imperial Dental Center
“We love to see you smile”