What is a Night Guard?
A night guard is a type of occlusal guard that fits over your teeth while you sleep to eliminate contact between your top and bottom teeth. The night guard protects the teeth from themselves due to the strength of the jaw bone moving side to side and back to front. Individuals who suffer from the temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) or Bruxism are most commonly seen being prescribed with night guards.
Often, individuals may not realize they need a night guard, so below is a comprehensive list explaining why it may be time to see a dentist or periodontist.
1. Waking up with tooth pain, jaw pain, or facial soreness
When sleeping, your face is relaxed, with little to no movement happening throughout the night. So, if you are waking up with any pain or soreness in your teeth, jaw, or face, it means you are more than likely grinding while you sleep.
Grinding your teeth at night is most commonly caused by Bruxism which is often caused by stress, anxiety, anger, etc. However, your bite and tooth alignment can also cause your nocturnal grinding. So if you are waking up with unexpected pain in your jaw and surrounding locations, it may be time to consult your Periodontist and consider a night guard.
2. Damage to your teeth that cannot be explained
Our jaws are one of the most robust bones in our bodies. When we chew, we are ripping through foods to make them small enough to consume. So, if you notice chips or cracks in your teeth that didn't get there from a sporting accident, then it may be caused by your teeth grinding and moving while you sleep.
When your teeth chip, break, or crack, it will need to be resolved immediately to avoid any added damage to the rest of your teeth. Even if you do not see any chips or cracks, your dentist could inform you that your enamel is beginning to wear down at a rapid rate. Enamel is an important protective layer for your teeth and needs to be protected to avoid any major dental issues.
3. Popping and clicking sound when you open and close your mouth
It may not be as noticeable at first, but you may have started noticing a rather infuriating and painful clicking or popping sound coming from the back of your jaw. This can be a telling sign you are in desperate need of a night guard.
Too much jaw movement results in the bone no longer functioning as it usually would. In addition, the pressure and force being exerted when your top and bottom teeth continuously collide with one another can cause your jaw to lock and hinder your ability to speak clearly or even eat.
4. Tension headaches right when you wake up
Things like stress and inadequate sleep can cause a tension headache.
When your teeth grind together at night, it can create tension between your upper and lower jaw, which can hinder your ability to get a whole night's sleep and wake up with an immediate headache.
A night guard relieves the tension between your upper and lower jaw, allowing you to get a better night's rest.
5. A partner is telling you they hear you grind your teeth while sleeping
You probably can't hear yourself grinding while you sleep, but the person next to you definitely can. Frequently excessive grinding can keep your partner up, much like the act of snoring.
If your partner is telling you they can hear you grinding at night, definitely do not brush this off and make an appointment with your dentist or periodontist as soon as possible. Nightguards not only eliminate the pain and injury caused by Bruxism and grinding, but they also reduce the sound you and others can hear.