Who Should Use a Night Guard?

Do you grind your teeth at night? If you do, you could be damaging your teeth. Or do you suffer from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain? If you do, you could be waking up with headaches. If any of this sounds familiar, there’s hope.

A simple oral appliance called a night guard may be able to relieve your symptoms. A night guard is a device that you wear over your teeth, and it separates your teeth and helps keep your jaws aligned.

In this blog, David Epstein, DDS, and Nikita Vakil, DMD, of The Woodlands Dental Group in The Woodlands, Texas, explain three conditions that a night guard can treat.

1. You grind your teeth

Ignoring teeth grinding, or bruxism, can increase your risk of seriously damaging your teeth. Untreated bruxism can lead to broken teeth, enamel erosion, and muscle pain. This kind of damage can require restorative dentistry — such as root canals, crowns, bridges, or even dentures or implants ― to fix.

Jaw clenching can place up to 250 pounds of pressure on your teeth and jaws. Compared to chewing — which exerts 40 pounds of pressure — it’s no wonder why bruxism can cause so much damage to teeth. 

Night guards can provide a buffer to separate your teeth and relieve pressure.

2. You have a TMJ disorder

Although a night guard isn’t the only treatment for TMJ pain, it’s a convenient and nonsurgical treatment option. It’s especially beneficial if your TMJ pain is related to teeth grinding, since teeth grinding can contribute to jaw pain.

A custom-fitted night guard can hold your jaws and teeth in the proper alignment, which, in turn, may help alleviate jaw tension, morning headaches, head and neck pain, and other symptoms of TMJ disorders.

You might have a TMJ disorder if you experience any of the following symptoms:

While TMJ disorders do cause jaw pain, other conditions can also cause jaw pain, such as tooth decay, abscesses, and infections. If you experience jaw pain, Dr. Epstein and Dr. Vakil can get to the bottom of what’s causing your pain. 

3. You suffer from stress

Because stress can contribute to bruxism, stress management is often included in bruxism treatment plans. However, if you’ve tried to reduce your stress load but are still struggling with teeth grinding, don’t wait to seek treatment. You can still benefit from a night guard as you work on reducing stress. 

Even if you’ve tried over-the-counter mouthguards, don’t rule out a custom night guard. Unlike the one-size-fits-all versions, custom-fitted night guards will:

In addition to using a nightguard, we can also suggest lifestyle changes to help alleviate jaw and other pain. This may include stress management tips, relaxation exercises, and ways to improve your posture.

To learn more about night guards and to see if one may be able to help you, book an appointment over the phone with The Woodlands Dental Group today.

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