How Do I Know When I Need a Night Guard?

Woman With Occlusal Splint On Grey Background, Closeup

How Do I Know When I Need a Night Guard?

Woman With Occlusal Splint On Grey Background, Closeup

Imagine waking up in the morning only to find that your jaw hurts and you feel a dull headache setting in. If this hypothetical scenario sounds all too real to you, you could be suffering from excessive teeth grinding or clenching.

But what does this mean and what is the next step? First off, it’s always important to communicate your concerns with our Portage family dentist. Dr. Paul can perform an oral examination and listen to your described symptoms before recommending treatment.

If grinding or clenching is affecting the health of your teeth and your quality of everyday life for that matter, our dentist may create a custom-fitted night guard for you. Here’s what you need to know about night guards and the symptoms that call for them.

Bruxism and TMJ Disorders

Experienced by many worldwide, bruxism is a common condition in which you grind and clench your teeth excessively. It can happen during the day or at night and oftentimes goes unnoticed by the affected individual.

Both adults and children can experience bruxism. Fortunately, most cases are easily treated with dental appliances, like night guards. More often than not, bruxism results from high levels of stress, anxiety, or an abnormal bite.

Temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, disorders can also play into an individual’s need for a night guard. Think of your temporomandibular joint as a sliding hinge that connects the jawbone to your skull. When there is compromised or dysfunctional movement of the jaw joint, pain can occur in the facial muscles.

Our dentist will have to evaluate your teeth and jaw for obvious signs of bruxism and TMJ disorder. If tooth wear is found and facial pain is reported after waking, a night guard will be created.

Common Symptoms to Look Out For

Any sign of bruxism or a TMJ disorder should be relayed to our dentist. If left untreated, the long-term existence of either condition can result in possible loss of teeth, enamel, and more.

You may be suffering from bruxism if you’re experiencing:

  • Dull headaches after waking up
  • Jaw, neck, or face soreness
  • Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped, or loose
  • Fatigue caused by lack of sleep
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Increased tooth pain or sensitivity
  • Tired or tight jaw muscles

If your grinding or clenching do result in damage to your teeth, our dentist may discuss the need for restorative procedures like dental crowns or dental implants.

How a Night Guard Works

Night guards help protect your teeth and gums from the effects of grinding and clenching. They do this by acting as a barrier between your top and bottom teeth. Because the teeth can’t touch when the night guard is in place, grinding and clenching become difficult.

The night guard also gives the muscles in the jaw a cushioning effect if you do try to clench your teeth. Its presence lightens the tension put on the jaw and prevents pain in the area as well as tooth enamel loss.

Prevent Tooth Damage

Put an end to the discomfort caused by conditions like bruxism. Our Portage, MI, family dentist would be more than happy to custom fit you for your very own night guard. Call Courtside Dental today at (269) 327-1011 or request an appointment online.