28 Jun Why You May Need a Mouthguard
Why a mouth guard can protect your teeth and jaw and contribute to a better night’s sleep.
If you wake in the morning feeling like you were in a boxing match all night, you may be grinding your teeth. An estimated 20% of Americans unconsciously grind their teeth at night. The pressure of teeth grinding can cause a sore jaw, headache, damage to teeth, and disruption of sleep. Wearing a properly fitted mouthguard protects teeth from wear, releases tension in the jaw, and improves quality of sleep.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
Jaws are exceptionally powerful, creating up to 250 pounds of force. During grinding, the upper and lower jaw move back and forth, creating friction when teeth rub together. This action puts tremendous pressure on the muscles and joints surrounding the jaw leaving teeth vulnerable to chipping and breaking. Grinding can be caused by physical and emotional disruptions:
- Misalignment of the jaw; missing or crooked teeth
- Stress, tension, and anxiety
- Side effects of certain medications such as antidepressants
- Sleep disorders including sleep apnea and snoring
- Consumption of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and illegal drugs
Over time, grinding 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, as well as increased sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. Severe cases of grinding, called Bruxism, may also compromise the immune system.
The Benefit of Wearing a Mouthguard
Mouthguards are an oral device worn over the upper or lower teeth. It repositions the lower jaw so the muscles relax. The pliable plastic material creates a protective barrier with a cushioning effect. Acting like a splint, it holds teeth in proper position. The benefits of wearing a mouthguard are:
Prevents injury and damage to teeth – The barrier created by the mouthguard protects teeth from the force of the jaw. It holds teeth in proper position and supports jaw alignment.
Protects against Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) – The TMJ joint acts like a sliding hinge between your jawbone and skull. TMJ Disorder can cause long-term acute discomfort to the jaw from continual strain to jaw muscles, nerves, and ligaments.
Improved quality of sleep – Grinding can interrupt important sleep cycles. Insomnia, snoring, and other sleep disorders may also contribute to grinding.
Headaches – The pressure caused by grinding can result in muscle tension that spreads into the neck and head, causing headaches and even migraines for those prone to them.
These side effects can be detrimental to overall health, but a custom-fitted mouthguard is a simple solution.
Getting A Mouthguard
Unlike generic, store-bought mouthguards, custom mouthguards provide stability because they are made to your specific jaw size and teeth structure. In a simple process, the dentist takes a plaster mold of the patient’s teeth to create the guard. The dentist checks the mouthguard to ensure proper fit and bite. The softness and durability of a custom-fit mouthguard is easy to adjust to wearing, often within one night.
Give yourself the gift of a good night’s sleep and save your teeth while you’re at it. At Imperial Dental Center, we want you to sleep tight and smile bright. Call to schedule an appointment to discuss if a mouthguard is right for you.
Dr. Dragana Angelova
Imperial Dental Center
“We love to see you smile”