Teeth grinding or clenching is frequently called bruxism and is an issue experienced by many individuals without their knowledge. This is because bruxism typically occurs at night when a person is asleep and unconscious of their behavior.
Although common, teeth grinding and clenching is painful and can cause future problems, especially for individuals who have naturally soft teeth or are prone to fractures and infections. While the exact cause of this issue is unknown, the solution is wearing a night guard while sleeping.
What Is a Night Guard?
Night guards go by many names, including mouth guards, dental guards, and bite plates. They work by creating a synthetic barrier between the teeth so they no longer touch one another and cannot grind or clench. While people will mimic the movements, the teeth cannot wear each other down, helping prevent the issues caused by grinding and clenching.
The guard will further help reduce the tension on the teeth and create a noticeable improvement in comfort, meaning most people who use one sleep better and feel more refreshed in the morning.
While it is possible to purchase inexpensive night guards over the counter from pharmacies, the best ones are developed by dentists in the office after a thorough inspection of the teeth. People with drastic overbites or underbites, for example, will not be able to use over the counter models because there is not enough variation in sizing.
Types of Night Guards
People interested in using a night guard as a teeth grinding solution will notice that there are multiple varieties. The first is the soft model, which is meant for those who only have a slight problem. The material is flexible and comfortable and tends to be inexpensive, but they are not durable.
The next style is called dual laminate, which is characterized by being soft on the inside and hard on the outside. These are comfortable and more durable than the soft counterparts and are intended for moderate grinders.
The last type is hard, and these are firm on the inside and outside. These guards can be quite uncomfortable but are long-lasting and meant to help individuals who have serious problems and TMJ issues.
The Negative Effects of Clenching and Grinding
Teeth clenching and grinding leads to numerous problems, especially among those who do so every night. The most common symptom is frequent tooth and jaw pain caused by applying too much pressure to the jaw and wearing away the tops of the teeth. Frequent grinders might also notice that the tops of their teeth are flattened and uncomfortable.
Other negative effects are headaches, the loss of the essential tooth structure, gum recession, the loosening of the teeth, cracked and broken teeth, changes in the facial shape or structure, and even breathing problems.
Many people don’t realize that they are regular clenchers and grinders, so it’s important to relate any common symptoms to your dentist so they can check for more signs of a problem on the surface of your teeth. In rare cases, too much clenching or grinding can lead to permanent tooth loss, which is a major problem that opens the door to gum weakness and potential infections. In some severe cases, patients might also suffer from damage to the joints of the jaw.
Who Most Commonly Suffers From Teeth Grinding and Clenching?
Unfortunately, dentists cannot pinpoint a common demographic for this problem, which is why it’s crucial that individuals make appointments on a regular basis. Dentists can then check for signs of the issue. Despite this, clenching is frequently seen among individuals who already suffer from poor oral health, especially young children and adults who are under great stress in their daily lives.
How to Get a Night Guard
If you fear that you might be clenching or grinding, the best solution is to see a dentist immediately. If you are not able to schedule a quick appointment, then consider getting an over the counter guard as a temporary measure. For a high-quality office near you, check out El Paso Periodontics & Implant Specialists, a location that possesses multiple professionals with many years of experience.