En Guarde! Mouthguards Do More than Protect Your Teeth

You probably know that mouth guards help athletes protect their mouths from damage during sport, but you might not realize how much everyone can benefit from the use of a mouth guard, particularly when you sleep.

Many patients complain that they wake up with headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and pain in the face. These same patients are often surprised to find out that their symptoms occur because of bruxism. Bruxism is a common condition characterized by grinding the teeth and clenching the jaw. Bruxism sufferers usually grind their teeth in their sleep, but clenching can occur all day long. Symptoms can result in tooth damage, insomnia, and pain, and while stress is a primary contributor, many lifestyle factors can also increase the occurrence of bruxism. Night guards can help protect your teeth and sometimes inhibit the tendency to clench your jaw while you sleep.

Night guards can also be used to manage jaw pain and lockjaw, and can reduce the effects of popping and clicking of the jaw as part of treatment for TMJ. Patients who experience pain and discomfort that prevents them from getting enough sleep can use a night guard to help alleviate and even eliminate insomnia. Some of the many uses of mouth guards include:

Stop Tooth Damage
Continual grinding and clenching of your teeth result in broken and chipped teeth, damaged fillings, and cause stress cracks and wear down your enamel, making your teeth more sensitive and prone to cavities. You can avoid expensive restoration procedures and tooth loss by using a night guard to prevent teeth from grinding against one another.

Alleviate Facial Pain and Headaches
Bruxism (grinding and clenching) and temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are often accompanied by headaches, toothaches, and facial pain. You may wake up with a sore jaw, muscle fatigue in your face, neck pain, ear aches, and even spasms in the shoulders, neck and facial muscles. Using a night guard can help to manage or even eliminate these symptoms, and personalized mouth guards can also help to alleviate TMJ-related jaw pain.

Reduce Tension and Stress
A custom-fit night guard is lightweight and comfortable, and can reduce stress in your jaw joints and muscles. By reducing this stress and alleviating the pain associated with it, you can speak, eat, and laugh without the constant experience of pain and discomfort, helping to relieve stress both day and night. Reducing stress can help minimize or even eliminate the tendency to grind and clench your teeth, allowing you to potentially avoid symptoms altogether.

Get Better Sleep
As a result of the minimization or elimination of symptoms due to bruxism or other jaw problems, patients experience less pain and can improve their overall sleep and get better, more restful sleep. Night guards can be fitted to position your jaw differently to promote muscle relaxation, creating a sense of relief in the jaw that encourages you to rest and to enjoy healthier sleep patterns.

Stop the Snoring
Bruxism and jaw problems can cause breathing problems and contribute to snoring while you sleep. For patients who snore as a side effect of clenching and grinding their teeth, a night guard can help you position your mouth so that you can breathe better and reduce snoring. You should check with your doctor if you feel like you stop breathing at night, as this could be the sign of a more serious sleep disorder.

You will need two visits to your dentist to be fitted for your mouth guard, one to make a mold of your mouth that can be used to create the guard, and a second to pick up your guard and ensure that it fits properly. Your dentist will instruct you about how to use and clean your guard when you receive it. Talk to your dentist today to find out how to protect your teeth and improve your life with a custom night guard!