For people who suffer from bruxism, or teeth grinding, a mouth guard is usually recommended to prevent damage to the teeth. This dental appliance is designed to create a barrier between the top and bottom sets of teeth, preventing direct contact and minimizing damage. It also affects jaw alignment and lessens tightness in the jaw muscles.
Although there can be side effects when wearing a mouth guard (namely dry mouth and hypersalivation), it has been considered one of the cheapest ways of managing teeth grinding for years. Serious cases of bruxism or TMJ disorder may require a more invasive treatment, such as surgery, but for many patients, wearing a night guard offers many benefits.
- Prevent tooth damage: Clenching and grinding the teeth throughout the night during sleep can result in chipped or broken teeth as well as damaged fillings or sensitivity due to excessive enamel wear. A mouth guard does not prevent the clenching or grinding from happening, but reduces the impact, preventing damage and any treatments that might come as a result of it.
- Alleviate pain and headaches: Mouth guards can reduce tension in the jaw joints and muscles, alleviating pain and headaches that occur as a result of the pressure exerted on the jaw and surrounding muscles.
- Improve sleep patterns: Reducing the tension that comes from bruxism or a TMJ disorder can lead to improved sleep patterns, as a mouth guard promotes muscle relaxation and reduces the stress in the jaw. This creates a sense of relief to allow for sleep and rest.
- Reduce snoring: Teeth clenching/grinding and jaw problems can affect the muscles, leading to breathing problems and snoring. Night guards keep the jaws slightly open to increase air intake and therefore improve breathing during sleep.