If you wake up in the morning with a sore jaw, headaches, or teeth that feel sensitive or loose, you may be grinding or clenching your teeth at night. This condition, called bruxism, can cause serious dental problems if left untreated. Fortunately, there are solutions available, and one of the most common treatments for grinding teeth is a night guard.
What is a Night Guard?
A night guard is a dental device that is designed to protect your teeth from the damage caused by grinding or clenching. It is usually worn while you sleep and is made from a durable, comfortable material that molds to the shape of your teeth. The guard provides a barrier between your upper and lower teeth, cushioning the impact of your grinding and protecting your teeth from the wear and tear that can result. A night guard will NOT prevent you from grinding or clenching. Instead, it protects your teeth when grinding and clenching occur.
Why Do People Need a Night Guard?
There are a number of reasons why people may need to wear night guards. Bruxism is one of the most common causes, but there are other factors that can contribute to tooth grinding or clenching, including stress, anxiety, and certain medications. Some people may also have misaligned teeth or other dental issues that make them more prone to grinding or clenching.
If left untreated, bruxism can cause serious dental problems, including cracked or broken teeth, gum recession, and even tooth loss. It can also lead to jaw pain, headaches, and other discomfort. Therefore, if you suspect that you may be grinding or clenching your teeth, it is important to seek professional advice from Dr. Z.
How To Get a Night Guard
If Dr. Z determines that you need a night guard, we will scan your teeth (no messy, gooey material needed!) and send it to our dental laboratory to have a custom-made guard fabricated. Unlike over-the-counter night guards, a custom-made one perfectly fits only your teeth. For that reason, you don’t have to worry about it falling out at night or being uncomfortable.
Once the guard is ready, you will return to Z Dentistry for a fitting, where any necessary adjustments are made to ensure that it fits properly and feels comfortable. Your bite will also be recorded to make sure that you are biting on the guard in a harmonious way that will not allow for damage to existing dental restorations, like veneers and crowns.
Night Guard Care Instructions
Proper care and maintenance of your night guard at home is important to ensure that it lasts as long as possible and continues to provide the protection you need. Here are some tips for caring for your night guard:
- Rinse it with cool water after each use.
- Clean it with a toothbrush and mild soap or toothpaste.
- Store it in a protective case when not in use.
- Avoid exposing it to extreme heat or sunlight.
- Bring it with you to your regular dental check-ups so your dentist can inspect it for wear and tear.
How Long Will My Night Guard Last?
This is a common question most of our patients ask when thinking about getting a night guard. Every person is different — if you grind a ton at night, your guard may only last 6 months. If you are a lighter teeth grinder at night, your night guard could last many, many years. It really just depends on your habits, teeth make-up, and overall alignment of your teeth. Bring your guard with you at your regular preventative dental visits so that Dr. Z can look at it and make sure it’s still working properly for you. If you ever notice holes in your night guard, it’s time to be replaced, as it’s no longer doing its job!
Protect Your Teeth!
If you suspect that you may be grinding or clenching your teeth at night, it is important to seek professional advice from a qualified healthcare provider. A night guard may be one of the most effective treatments for bruxism, but it is important to determine whether it is appropriate for your particular situation. With proper care and maintenance, a night guard can provide long-lasting protection for your teeth and help alleviate the discomfort associated with teeth grinding habits.
Contact Z Dentistry today to schedule your consult with Dr. Z.