Do you suffer from chronic headaches? Have you been told that you grind your teeth when you sleep? Are you waking up in the middle of the night because of jaw soreness? If any of these apply to you, then it might be time to visit your dentist for a custom night guard.
What Is a Night Guard?
A night guard is a custom mouthpiece of acrylic that fits over your teeth similar to an acrylic retainer. They are made by taking an impression of your teeth, then sending the mold to a dental lab where they create a custom-fitted night guard.
There is also the option for an over-the-counter night guard. Over-the-counter night guards are typically not as comfortable since they are not custom made to your mouth. An over-the-counter mouth piece usually has to be boiled or microwaved at home to soften it, then the user bites into it to shape it to their mouth. This is a cheaper option, but usually not as comfortable or as effective.
Why Do People Use Night Guards?
Night guards are a common solution to bruxism and temporomandibular joint pain. Bruxism is a condition in which you grind, clench, or gnash your teeth typically during the night. Temporomandibular joint pain (also known as TMJ) is when your jaw joints get injured, one common side effect of bruxism. TMJ can cause jaw tenderness, headaches, earaches and facial pain.
A properly fitted night guard shifts the jaw and teeth into proper alignment, which can lessen jaw tension, headaches, and pain caused by temporomandibular joint syndrome. Wearing a night guard can also protect your teeth from grinding, which causes enamel erosion.
Pros and Cons of Using a Night Guard
If you are thinking about wearing a night guard, it’s important to know the pros and cons associated with making this decision.
Pro: They Protect Your Teeth
As mentioned before, wearing a night guard protects your teeth from getting damaged from grinding. One of the issues with teeth grinding is that it thins the enamel on your teeth. Wearing a night guard will protect your teeth from erosion, tooth wear, cracks, gum recession, and tooth movement.
Pro: They Can Reduce Discomfort
A custom made night guard has a high level of comfort and effectiveness. Night guards are not only made to be comfortable in your mouth, they can also reduce your discomfort depending on the condition it is treating. If you are wearing a night guard to treat TMJ due to bruxism, it can be unsettling and uncomfortable. It can involve jaw pain, migraines, and other aches. But using a nightguard can help reduce these problems and the pain.
Con: They Can Be Difficult To Get Used To
Whether your night guard is custom made or over-the-counter, they can take some time getting used to. It may take a few nights, or even up to a week, for your mouth to adjust to having a new medical device in it. It’s important to be patient when making this adjustment. Many people agree that the time it takes to get used to wearing a night guard is worth it for the long term effects.
Con: They Require Replacement
Mouth guards do not last forever, just like most medical devices. Over time they will wear down and become less effective. If your jaw or teeth move your mouth guard may not fit properly or it will become uncomfortable. If this happens then there is a simple solution; you can replace it with a new one.
So, Should You Wear a Night Guard?
If you have been suffering from chronic headaches, teeth grinding, or jaw soreness it may be time to consult your dentist about investing in a night guard. It is important to note the pros and cons of wearing a night guard when deciding with your dentist if it’s the best option for you.