Even while asleep, our bodies are still very busy.  We rest and recover while our busy minds dream and plan for a new day.  We may not realize it, but our mouths are often busy as well.  Stress, anxiety, and or even simple habit may result in unintentional teeth grinding and clenching as we sleep. For some this habit might be very mild or only happen occasionally.  For others, however, teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, may evolve into future dental worries.  If you find yourself waking up with sore teeth, headaches, or jaw pain consider asking your dentist about using a nightguard to protect your smile.

What is a Nightguard and When is it Worn?

Although everyone is familiar with athletic mouth guards such as those worn by football players and boxers, many don’t realize the benefits nightguards provide.  This simple tool protects the enamel of your teeth and helps your jaw stay relaxed at night. They are found at nearly every drug store in a variety of styles and prices. Nightguards fit snugly over your teeth for full protection.

Basic, store-bought nightguards work well in alleviating mild cases of grinding or clenching.  However, if your symptoms persist without relief, strongly consider a professional consultation with your dentist. You may require a custom-fitted nightguard to properly protect your teeth.

What are Nightguards Made of?

Most nightguards consist of a combination of soft rubber and thermoplastic materials that are easily sculpted. The thermoplastic elements of nightguards allow them to be heated and fitted over your unique bite.  As the materials cool, the guard hardens to form a lasting mold.

Do Nightguards Actually Work?

You might feel a nightguard is unimportant or unnecessary. However, a closer look at the risks of untreated bruxism is worrisome. Professor Noshir Mehta of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine spoke in an interview with the Washington Post interview explaining the enormous force of nighttime grinding: “When you clench your teeth, usually during sleep, there’s about 300 pounds of force on the tooth. That’s like a linebacker standing on it.” To leave our teeth unprotected at night is incredibly risky. Fortunately, many people find significant relief and improvement in pain, sleep quality, and dental health after regularly wearing a nightguard.

If you experience symptoms of clenching or grinding, strongly consider investing in a nightguard.  Every smile is different; try more than one brand or style to ensure you find the best fit and protection.  For more information on protecting your smile both day and night, contact us today.