Many people find that they wake up in the mornings with a sore or aching jaw. Many times, this is caused by a condition called bruxism. Some estimates are that 10-15% of people suffer from this condition.
While an aching jaw may sound like a minor issue, it can also cause premature dental wear and jaw-related other problems. Fortunately, the treatment for bruxism is relatively simple. You should visit with your dentist and see if a nightguard is an option for you.
Nightguards are simple medical tools that help protect your teeth while you sleep at night. There are several different types of nightguards that are available. It is essential to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each type so that you can make the best decision for yourself to treat bruxism and maintain your dental health.
The simplest and most inexpensive nightguard is simply a plastic or soft material that is designed to cover your upper teeth. They come in a few different sizes, and you simply place it in your mouth at night. This nightguard does not offer any customization.
This means that they often result in a poor fit that can be uncomfortable and difficult for patients to tolerate at night. They can also interfere with your ability to speak and breathe while you sleep.
Another type of nightguard is also readily available is a boil and bite style. This nightguard is made from a soft thermoplastic material. This material is designed to be placed in hot water and then the patient bites onto the plastic. As they bite down, they also press the mouthguard tightly against their teeth. As the plastic cools, it takes on the shape of the teeth and gums. This offers a better fit than a standard nightguard, but they can still be bulky and affect speech or breathing patterns.
The final type of nightguard is a custom nightguard. A custom nightguard is created specifically for each patient. A mold of the teeth is taken, and then a laboratory prepares the nightguard for you. These nightguards are thinner and are the best fit for your mouth. They should not affect your ability to breathe and have the least impact on your speech.
If you think a custom nightguard might be your best option, schedule an appointment with your dentist
One important distinction to make is that between a mouthguard and a nightguard is the overall coverage. Mouthguards that are used for athletic applications are designed to protect the entire tooth and the junction of the tooth with the jawline. This means that the coverage of a mouthguard also includes the gumline.
Additionally, mouthguards are intended to be used for shorter periods of time while we are active and awake. The additional coverage that a mouthguard provides is great for athletics, but when you sleep in a mouthguard, it can easily cause irritation to the gums. It also allows for the incubation of bacteria on the gum lines for the entire time you sleep.
In contrast, nightguards only cover the biting surfaces. This allows your gums to breathe freely while protecting your teeth from additional damage.
If you are considering the use of a nightguard for bruxism, it’s important to see your dentist. Your dentist can help to guide you to the right choice for you and help you avoid any unnecessary pitfalls. Additionally, if you require a custom nightguard, your dentist is specifically equipped to handle all the legwork involved with getting you the right fit. Call your dentist today to discuss the possibility of a nightguard to help you stop grinding your teeth while you sleep.