Most bruxism, or teeth grinding, happens at night when we are unaware of what our body is doing, so you may be wondering exactly how you are supposed to know if you really need a nighttime mouth guard. After all, if you are able to sleep through your grinding, is it really that big of a deal? Unfortunately, grinding can lead to a variety of dental and overall health problems, so you should be on the lookout for some telltale signs that you might benefit from a nighttime mouth guard.
YOU WAKE UP IN THE MORNING WITH A HEADACHE
Are you tired of starting each morning with a terrible headache? This pain and discomfort could be the result of grinding your teeth at night, and it is one of the many reasons that we may recommend that you use a nighttime mouth guard. While wearing a mouth guard isn’t going to stop you from grinding your teeth, it can help, and it can relieve some of the pressure that you are putting on your teeth and jaws. You may also want to use some relaxation techniques in order to wind down before bed, as a lot of tooth grinding and clenching is stress and anxiety-related.
YOUR TEETH ARE CHIPPING OR BREAKING
Has your dentist noticed that your teeth are chipped or that pieces are breaking off? This could be a sign that you have been grinding, most likely at night. Chipped teeth require dental care in order to be repaired, but chips can also be a sign that you’re grinding has turned the corner to become a serious problem. Grinding the teeth will put a lot of pressure onto the enamel, and tooth damage could result. Not only can these chips or breaks be expensive to repair, but they can also lead to cavities. Before you chip and damage more teeth, it is wise to talk us about a nighttime mouth guard.
YOU ARE DIAGNOSED WITH TMJ DISORDER
Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJD, occurs when the muscles that surround the jaw are inflamed, and in many cases, clenching and grinding the teeth can cause this issue. If your dentist has diagnosed you with TMJ disorder, he will likely recommend a mouth guard. Sleeping with a mouth guard in place will protect your teeth, reduce your grinding, and will minimize the pain associated with your TMJ disorder.
YOUR MOLARS SEEM FLAT
Have you noticed that your molars seem to be flatter than the used to be? Over a significant period of time, grinding and clenching can damage the teeth by wearing out the chewing surfaces. This can happen so slowly that you might not even notice a change until the damage has already been done. Take a look at your teeth in a mirror and check out the surfaces, and if you notice that your teeth seem shorter or flatter than they were in the past, you may need a nighttime mouth guard to prevent further damage.
YOU’RE CHEWING ON THINGS DURING THE DAY
If you find yourself chewing on things during the day, this may be a sign that you are also grinding and clenching at night. Constantly chewing on pencils, ice, or gum will reinforce the grinding habit, and you are likely continuing with the behavior at night while you are sleeping. While making a conscious effort to stop chewing during the day may provide some nighttime relief, a mouth guard may be a better option.
While there is no simple cure for nighttime grinding, you can protect yourself from some of the most troubling of symptoms. If you are concerned about your nighttime grinding, please schedule an appointment to see us right away. We can discuss mouth guards and other options that can treat your bruxism.