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Night Guards

Night Guards

Do you clench or grind your teeth at night? Have you noticed jaw pain or headaches in the mornings? If so, you may have bruxism. Dr. Gotora at Stellar Dental can help you determine this and whether you need to use a night guard.
In general, mouthguards are a great way to protect your teeth if you become involved in sports. But, there are other times when a mouthguard is useful as well: night time. Why? Many people have a tendency to clench or grind their teeth at night. This can lead to wear and tear of your teeth as well as other problems. The solution is to use a night guard.

Grinding your teeth, whether intentional or not, can wear down your teeth. Night guards can help.

What are night guards?

Night guards are protective coverings for your teeth. Much like mouth guards, there are a few different kinds of night guards to choose from:

  • Preformed,
  • Adjustable, and
  • Custom.

In most cases, night guards are only used over your top teeth. Yet, sometimes people use a bottom guard, or a night splint as well.

What are the differences between the different kinds of night guards available?

Preformed night guards are often found at retail stores. The manufacturers make preformed night guards from a plastic or rubber. They are inexpensive, but they are also not adjustable. Thus, they can add unnecessary bulk, which also makes them uncomfortable.

Adjustable night guards are a little better. Before you can wear these, you need to boil them. The boiling process heats and softens their material and allows for you to adjust the bite. The disadvantage is that they also add extra bulk. While the bite is adjustable, they are often lacking in comfort as well.

Custom night guards are the top of the line. They cost more than the other two kinds of night guards. Yet, since they are custom made, they provide a greater level of comfort. You can get custom night guards only from your dentist. Dr. Gotoros can help fit you for a custom night guard that is right for you.

Why are night guards used?

Night guards protect your teeth if you have bruxism, or grind your teeth. While bruxism is common in adults, some children also experience it as well. Many children who have bruxism will later outgrow it. It prevents the crowns from wearing down, and also wear and tear on the muscles, tendons of the mouth and jaw joints

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is a teeth grinding condition. Often, patients may not even realize that they are clenching or grinding their teeth. Others become aware of it when sounds of teeth clicking together wakes them or someone else. Or, they discover it when they continue to wake up with jaw pain or headaches. There are symptoms of bruxism that can clue you in on whether you may have bruxism.

What are the Signs or Symptoms of Bruxism and Clenching?

Signs and symptoms of bruxism and clenching include:

  • Slight headache in the morning;
  • Jaw achiness in the morning;
  • Noticed flattening of crowns on molars;
  • Clicking or noises coming from the jaw joint;
  • Pain or discomfort from just in front of the ear that radiates up into the temple; and/or,
  • Reduced range of motion when eating, speaking or yawning.

What causes bruxism?

Teeth grinding and clenching can cause tightening of the jaw joints by overstressing the muscles, tendons and joints. Bruxism can be triggered by any of the following things conditions:

  • Stress,
  • Anxiety,
  • Abnormal bite,
  • Missing or crooked teeth, and/or,
  • Sleep disorders.

What does bruxism do to teeth?

A night guard covers teeth, thus protecting them from the damage that bruxism can cause. Some of the long-term effects associated with bruxism include:

  • Wearing down of teeth,
  • Chipped or broken teeth,
  • Loose or missing teeth,
  • Jaw pain or tightness,
  • Headaches upon waking, and,
  • TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder)

Some of the effects of bruxism are temporary and may be relieved once jaw function is controlled. But, other effects are not. In fact, some of the effects of bruxism are lasting or permanent. Once there is damage to the bone of the jaw joint, it cannot be restored and treatment will focus on reducing inflammation and pain. If left unchecked, bruxism can wear teeth down or even lead to the need for dental restorations. Finding a solution before the problem escalates is essential to saving your smile.

At Stellar Dental, your smile is important to us. Let Dr. Gotoro help you with your bruxism today. He can discuss your unique situation and offer solutions that make sense for you.

Where can I get night guards in my area?

Finding the right night guard is vital to protect your teeth from the effects of bruxism. You could get a preformed or adjustable night guard from your local pharmacy. But, why not opt for comfort and precision instead? At Stellar Dental, we place your comfort first and can help you with your decision.

To find out more about how a custom night guard can help preserve your smile, give us a call to schedule your consultation today. Dr. Gotora is ready to help you determine which type of night guard will serve you best. For your convenience, we have two locations. Contact our location nearest you. For Silver Spring, MD you can call (301) 754-1900, or call our Hyattsville office at (301) 853-1567.

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