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Nightguards and Bruxism

Bruxism is the dental term used for teeth grinding. According to the American Dental Association, bruxism affects approximately 10 to 15 percent of adults.

Symptoms of bruxism can include waking up with a sore jaw, headaches which can sometimes even radiate to your shoulders and back, and even tooth pain or sensitivity.

Why Do People Grind Their Teeth?

Tooth grinding can be caused by a number of different factors including stress and anxiety. It often occurs during sleep although recent studies have reported that day time grinding can be just as damaging to the teeth and is now thought to be responsible for a large percentage of tooth wear found. Tooth grinding can also be caused by sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.

How can I treat my grinding?

First of all, we need to determine whether the grinding is caused by a sleep disorder. It has been reported that in 50% of all patients that wear night guards and have sleep apnea, the sleep apnea was made worse. It is therefore paramount that you are screened for sleep apnea prior to having a nightguard fabricated. The American College of Prosthodontists released a Position Statement advising a mandatory sleep screening questionnaire prior to nightguard fabrication. If it has been determined that there is no sleep disordered breathing, one of the ways to alleviate the effects of bruxism is with a night guard.

This is an appliance typically worn while sleeping through the night. Its main function is to prevent the surfaces of your teeth from grinding together, which can cause your teeth to chip and crack and strain your jaw muscles. A dental impression is first taken at our office which is then made at a dental laboratory. After about a week after the impression is taken, the patient returns to the office to have the nightguard fitted.

What Could Happen to my Teeth if I Don't Get a Mouth Guard?

If bruxism has been determined and no nightguard is made, consequences can include the wearing down of teeth which can destroy tooth enamel and can chip or crack teeth. Unfortunately, once enamel has been destroyed, it cannot be replaced.

Does it matter if my nightguard is an upper or a lower guard?

Yes. In light of recent findings about the association between grinding and sleep apnea, unless otherwise indicated, it is preferable to have a lower nightguard made as it will have less impact on obstructing your airway.

How do I clean my nightguard?

Rinsing your night guard in mouthwash will help kill the germs left on your nightguard. After you have rinsed it in mouthwash rinse it with cool water. Do NOT soak your nightguard in mouthwash, as that can cause damage. Then gently brush your nightguard and then rinse with cool water.
How often should I clean my nightguard?
After each use.

Other Treatments for Teeth Grinding

If you find your night guard uncomfortable, there are other possible treatments that you can ask us about.

  • Stress prevention: One of the main causes of bruxism is anxiety, so perhaps you can utilize one or more at-home methods of relaxation, like meditation, or in some cases professional counseling, to get you to relax and stop clenching your jaw.
  • Find out if you have sleep apnea: Ask your family doctor to refer you for a sleep test.
  • Change of diet or medication: Your dentist might recommend avoiding stimulants, such as caffeine, to reduce teeth grinding. Certain medications, such as antidepressants, might also contribute to the issue, so make sure you tell your dentist about any medications you are taking so he can suggest an alternative if one is warranted.
  • Ask about a smaller nightguard: Oftentimes, we can fabricate a guard that fits only over your front teeth.

The most important thing to know about bruxism is that it can be treated with the help of a dentist so please do not hesitate to ask us any questions you may have if you suspect that you may be grinding your teeth. Call us today at Credit River Dental Centre to schedule your appointment!

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