Do you ever wake up with a sore jaw? if you do, chances are that you are probably clenching or grinding your teeth while you sleep. Clenching and grinding your teeth can cause some irreversible wear to your teeth. If left untreated, both of these may cause some dental problems in the near or far future. So what can you do to prevent damaging your teeth?
The simple answer is to just stop clenching or grinding right? but it's obviously not as easy as that. Most people who clench or grind their teeth are doing it while they are asleep, unknown to several of them. If you wake up in the morning with a sore jaw or headache, or if the person who you sleep with tells you that you're playing and making sounds with your teeth, then it's likely that you're clenching or grinding while you're asleep.
If you think you're affected by this you might want to think again, because according to the Sleep Foundation about 8% of middle-aged adults either grind or clench their teeth, this number is even higher in adolescents where the prevalence is estimated to be at about 15%. The most common reason to why people clench or grind is because they are stressed, suffer from anxiety or have simply develop a bad habit, but no matter the cause you'll have to find a way to protect your teeth.
The most common way to prevent damage to your teeth is by using a night guard also known as a dental occlusal guard. A night guard is a plastic or acrylic appliance that covers the chewing surfaces of your teeth. You'll mostly wear this at night, although we recommend that if you catch yourself clenching or grinding through the day, that you also consider wearing it during the day.
It is important to understand that a night guard wont stop your from clenching or grinding your teeth. The purpose of it is to prevent your upper and lower teeth from touching each other when you're grinding or clenching, therefore preventing damage to the tooth's enamel.
Although there are several over the counter night guards, we recommend that you get a custom made night guard made by your dentist. You'll first have visit your dentist to see if they recommend a night guard for you, then they will take an impression of your teeth to create a model of them and craft you custom night guard within a few days.
Custom made night guards are more expensive than over the counter night guards, but trust us, these "perfect" fit night guards are much more comfortable and will make you more compliant to wear them. Over the counter night guards are a good cheap alternative, but lack the quality, comfort and tend to move around the mouth quite a bit, so don't be surprised if you wake up in the morning and your night guard is on the floor next to your bed...
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