Chances are, if you suffer from jaw pain, worn teeth and headaches your dentist may recommend a nightguard. This is a common way to relieve bruxism, or extreme tooth grinding. If left unchecked, this could lead to a more serious problem called TMJ (temporomandibular joint inflammation). A nightguard can relieve bruxism, but the wrong type could aggravate it. If your dentist decides that you could benefit from a nightguard, ask if a hard or soft one would be best for you.
If your tooth grinding is minor, you may want to try a soft nightguard. Often available in drug stores, you fit them yourself by microwaving them or placing them in hot water. This is an economical choice, but best for people who only need them temporarily, such as for sports. They are also good if you just want to get used to wearing one before investing money in a custom nightguard.
If your bruxism is especially bad, using soft nightguards may cost you money in the long run because they are easy to wear through. Some dentists don’t recommend them because they provide a surface for your teeth to grip, which can make your bruxism worse.
Your dentist has to custom fit a hard nightguard, but they are a worthwhile investment if you have a moderate to severe problem with bruxism. These nightguards are made from the same material that dentures are made from, ensuring that they won’t break or wear through under regular use. Also, if your natural bite makes your bruxism worse the dentist can use the nightguard to correct your bite and align your jaw.
It is also possible to get a combination of hard and soft materials in a custom nightguard, and your dentist can tell you more about that. Contact us for more information on nightguards and for other dental needs such as crowns, bridges, implants or teeth whitening.