Many people chew or clench their jaw when they sleep to some extent. But at what point does it become a medical issue? Bruxism, the persistent grinding of teeth, can cause serious medical concerns if left untreated. Beyond cosmetic issues, this can cause jaw alignment problems that can even require surgery to correct. Today, your Newport Beach, CA dentist discusses night guards and whether you might need one.
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism is the medical term for unconscious movement of the jaw, causing collision between teeth. This can be clenching, grinding, or gnashing of the teeth. There are two different forms of the condition, known as “awake” and “sleep” bruxism. As you might imagine, one affects daytime unconscious movement, and the other while asleep.
Both forms can cause damage to the teeth, or misalignment of the jaw. Even milder forms can cause persistent headaches, and an increase in the likelihood of suffering from other sleep disorders like apnea (pauses in breath during sleep) or snoring.
What Are The Symptoms?
Most of the time, the symptoms of bruxism are mild, and do not need dental intervention. If you begin to notice any changes in the shape of your teeth, such as flattening or cracking, it is time to see a dentist.
If you are experiencing pain in the jaw or the ear, seeing a dentist can help alleviate the issue. Nobody should feel they have to suffer through pain, especially in the face!
You might also find that you are chewing your cheeks in the middle of the night. This is a symptom that is often overlooked, as it doesn’t involve the teeth coming into contact with each other. But it could lead to jaw misalignment if consistent.
How Do Night Guards Work?
“Boil and bite” mouthguards are the most readily accessible night guards on the market. With these, the guard is made of a soft thermoplastic. You place the guard in boiling water for a set period of time. After, you bite hard on the material, forming an impression of the mouth. These are highly affordable and available at your local drugstore.
Custom protectors are a more sophisticated solution. A dentist makes an impression of your bite, and then that information is sent to a laboratory. Then, technicians formulate a molded guard out of a harder material. These look similar to daily retainers.
If you are experiencing any symptoms, even fairly mild ones, a boil and bite mouthguard might alleviate your problems. If that doesn’t fully help, or if there are changes to your teeth, we highly suggest discussing this with your dentist. Rarely does bruxism improve on its own.
Questions Or Concerns?
If clenching or grinding is an issue, don’t suffer any longer. Please give Dr. Hofkes at Balboa Dental Surgery a call at (949)630-0143. Or stop by our office here in Newport Beach, CA!