Our teeth go through extensive wear and tear during our lifetime, including, in some cases, while we sleep. If you wake up most mornings with a sore jaw or headaches, you may be grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw at night. This activity, known as bruxism, can have a serious effect on both your oral health and wellbeing.
If you suspect your jaw pain, discomfort or other symptoms are a result of bruxism, schedule a personal consultation with top Sudbury dentist Dr. Mia Fitzgerald. She can assess your symptoms, and if she determines you grind or clench your teeth, she can provide you with an occlusal night guard to protect your teeth from the forces of bruxism while you sleep.
Causes and Effects of Bruxism
One of the most common causes of bruxism is stress and anxiety. Misaligned teeth and an improper bite can also lead to bruxism, and some studies have found a connection between sleep apnea and bruxism.
Regardless of the cause, it is very important to address bruxism. If left untreated, it can lead to any of the following:
- Fractures and cracks in teeth
- Changes in the bite due to excessive tooth wear
- Broken dental fillings and tooth pain
- Tooth sensitivity
- Gum recession
- Loose teeth
- Jaw pain and soreness due to overuse of muscles
- Difficulty opening and closing the jaw due to pain
How an Occlusal Night Guard Can Help
An occlusal night guard is an oral device that fits over the teeth (either in the upper arch, lower arch or both), absorbing much of the force of the clenching and grinding. This eases the tension placed on the teeth, muscles and jaw, and improves symptoms of bruxism.
While over-the-counter night guards are available, we recommend wearing a custom-fitted mouth guard provided by your dentist. Custom night guards are fabricated using impressions of a patient’s mouth, so they fit snugly yet comfortably over teeth. OTC night guards have a higher chance of causing discomfort or slipping out of the mouth as you sleep. Custom night guards are much more durable than OTC guards, which can wear down fast and require frequent replacement.
The process of getting your night guard is relatively simple. First, Dr. Fitzgerald will take a mold impression of your teeth and send it to a dental laboratory that will create the night guard. Once your night guard is ready (typically a week or two after your initial appointment), you will return to our office. Once Dr. Fitzgerald determines the guard is a right fit, she will go over details on how to use and care for your night guard. For best results, you should wear your night guard all night on a daily basis. Brush your night guard every morning when you wake up, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste. Rinse the oral appliance before putting it in your mouth when going to bed.
To learn more about bruxism or occlusal night guards, please schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Fitzgerald. Contact our Sudbury practice by emailing or calling us today.