Teeth grinding and clenching, also known as Bruxism, is pretty common and can be painful and destructive to teeth. Luckily, there are plenty of night guards for Bruxism on the market that can help anyone who clenches and grinds their teeth while sleeping.
About Bruxism: Symptoms, Side Effects, Causes
Bruxism is fairly common and some may not even be aware of their own grinding. Some Bruxism symptoms you may suffer from are:
- Teeth grinding
- Waking up with dull headaches
- Jaw soreness
- Facial pain
- Fatigue from lack of sleep
Occasional teeth grinding may not cause any real concerns, but long-term, consistent Bruxism can lead to broken teeth, loss of tooth enamel, and in severe cases, loss of teeth.
The exact cause is unknown, but it’s believed that stress and anxiety play the biggest role. Other causes may also be alcohol use, cigarettes, caffeine, sleep apnea, snoring, an abnormal bite, and crooked teeth.
Most cases of Bruxism can easily be treated by wearing a night guard while you sleep. Night guards are also known as dental guards, mouth guards, nocturnal bite plates, or bite splints. They work by putting a barrier between your teeth. When you clench your jaw, the night guard helps to lighten the tension and give cushion to the muscles in the jaw. This cushioning not only helps to prevent face and jaw pain, but also protects the enamel of your teeth. They look very similar to snoring remedies.
Night guards for Bruxism can be purchased over-the-counter without a prescription, as well as straight from the dentist. There are a few different ways they can be fitted, and the type that will work best for you depends on your individual needs.
Types of Night Guards
Soft Night Guard
This is the most commonly used type of night guard for Bruxism and used mostly for mild or occasional cases, not for severe teeth grinders.
- Most comfortable fit of all the night guards
- Most adaptable/easy to get used to
- Usually lower cost
- Some people unintentionally clench on to or chew the soft material
- Not as durable/limited lifespan
- Most warranties are only 6 months or less due to the limited life-span
- Not a long-term solution
Dual Laminate Night Guards
This type of night guard for Bruxism is for moderately severe teeth grinders. They are soft on the inside and hard on the outside.
- Handles heavy clenching and grinding
- Longer lasting
- Usually offers a longer warranty than soft guards
- Tend to be a little thicker than the other guards
- Seem to be harder to adjust to
Hard Night Guards
Hard night guards for Bruxism are made from acrylic and are extremely rigid but durable. They can be used for very severe cases of grinding, as well as TMJ.
- Most durable
- Prevents teeth from shifting
- Usually offers the longest warranty
- Thicker than soft night guards
- More uncomfortable than others
- Difficult to get used to sleeping in
- Need to be ordered directly through dentist since an accurate impression is needed for fit
- Can be more expensive than the others
Tips to Help Adjust to Night Guards
- Choose the thinnest possible guard suitable for you.
- Stick with it for at least 4-6 weeks and make a habit out of wearing it. After this amount of time, it should feel like a normal part of your routine and will seem a lot easier to wear.
- Put it in right before you go to sleep. Don’t try to wear it before you’re ready to go to bed, otherwise it will just feel obnoxious.
Fitting your Night Guard
Personalizing the fit of your night guard will depend on what brand you choose. Many of them use the same process that is used by snoring mouthpieces. Here are the different night guard fits for Bruxism:
- “One-size-fits-all.” There are over-the-counter mouth guards you can buy that will not be custom fitted. These may work for the occasional teeth grinder and are probably the lowest-cost option.
- “Boil and bite.” With this type, you just boil in water and bite into it to leave your own impression. It’s usually pretty simple to do and seems to be the most common type out there.
- Order online. There are night guards you can order online. The company you order from has you send your impression to them and they mail back your fitted mouthpiece.
- Made in lab. You can get mouth guards right from your dentist. These offer the most accurate fit because they are made with your impression in a lab.
If you suspect you may suffer from Bruxism, don’t worry. It can easily be treated with night guards. However, it’s always good to see a doctor to see if you can discover the root cause and fix that before seeking other treatment. In some cases, sleep apnea can be a cause.
Sleep Apnea and Bruxism
Just before we reach deep sleep, the muscles in our bodies relax. This includes the muscles in the airway, neck, and tongue. When this happens, excess tissue in the neck and airway, along with the tongue, can block airflow when we breathe, causing pauses in breathing. This is known as sleep apnea.
In some cases, the brain tells our jaw to tighten, clench, and grind in order to hold the airway open so we can breathe.
This keeps air flowing, but prevents us from entering deep sleep. The result can be compromised mental and physical health.
If sleep apnea is ruled out, a night guard for Bruxism may be what you need to give your jaw some relief. If a night guard isn’t helping or you want to explore different methods, learn about other ways to stop grinding your teeth at night.
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