A guide to nightguards, What they are, why you may need them to protect your teeth from bruxism
With our focus on building strong relationships and our robust diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities, it is no surprise that the Strongsville Smile Keepers team often detects problems that might otherwise go untreated. These problems, such as bruxism (or chronic teeth grinding), have wide-ranging implications for oral and overall health. During routine check-ups at our Strongsville, Ohio office, Dr. Matt Gaebelein examines your mouth and associated structures of the head, neck, face, jaws, and throat. Depending on what he finds, nightguards may be in your future to protect from damage or to prevent further damage. Lightweight, discreet, and easy, these oral appliances also support your overall well-being and quality of life.
Bruxism is most prominently characterized by persistent grinding of the teeth and intense clenching of the jaws. Often, individuals do not know that they are bruxing, as these behaviors occur during sleep. However, this condition is not limited to “nocturnal bruxism.”
Some individuals grind their teeth during the day (“awake bruxism”). Still, others may clench and grind while awake and while sleeping. Awake bruxers tend to be those who gnash their teeth when grappling with work stressors or when concentrating deeply.
Chronic distress and emotional upset are also implicated in night-time bruxing. Potentially, causes range from malocclusion or imbalances between the teeth and the upper and lower jaws to sleep-disordered breathing, obstructive sleep apnea, and other medical conditions. The use of certain medications and substances (like caffeine) may also be to blame.
Dr. Gaebelein may draw attention to this problem if he notices the following:
- Excessive or premature wear and tear to fillings, crowns, and other dental restorations
- Chipped teeth
- Fractured teeth
- “Short” teeth and enamel erosion
- Shifting, loose teeth
Sufferers may also complain about tight jaw muscles and sensitivity, especially when consuming sweet, hot, or cold beverages. Patients may also have jaw stiffness, chronic headaches, and other symptoms associated with stress to the jaw joints (or temporomandibular joint dysfunction). Bruxism is generally implicated in TMJDs due to the excessive force placed on the muscles and tissues of the mouth, face, and jaws due to chronic teeth grinding.
Fortunately, there are many potential ways to relieve pain and protect your oral health. For instance, Dr. Gaebelein may recommend relaxation techniques. Orthodontic treatments or repair of existing restorations can also promote a balanced bite and support healthy function and oral posture. We also apply our considerable expertise and diagnostic planning technologies to deliver oral appliances that are custom-fitted to your mouth. Such “nightguards” provide cushioning to protect the teeth and tissues from the considerable forces that are placed on them from bruxism. These appliances slip easily in and out of the mouth and are also easy to adjust to and maintain.
Alternately, NTI appliances (occlusal splints) promote oral health and comfortable function by preventing the back teeth from touching as you grind your teeth. So, when this full contact is inhibited, the teeth and joints do not bear the full brunt of the pressure placed on them from bruxing. Accordingly, patients may experience fewer or less severe headaches and an overall improvement in TMJD symptoms. These devices are particularly small, too, so they can be worn discreetly by awake bruxers.
Lead your fullest life while enjoying your healthiest and most confident smile. Call Strongsville Smile Keepers at (440) 508-4080 to schedule your consultation. We welcome your questions and encourage you to bring your concerns to our kind and qualified team.