WHAT IS A NIGHTGUARD??
Night guards are plastic devices that fit over the upper or lower teeth. People wear them
while they sleep. Like athletic mouthguards, night guards absorb pressure and stress that
would otherwise strain your teeth.
But rather than protecting your teeth from acute sports injuries, night guards are intended
to prevent tooth wear caused by bruxism (grinding). Sometimes, these mouth guards are
prescribed for TMJ (which can be exacerbated by teeth clenching).
TEETH GRINDING (Bruxism): CAUSES & DANGERS
Bruxism, or teeth grinding/clenching, is a sleep-related movement disorder in which your
upper and lower jaw clench together. Often, grinders clench their teeth without being
aware of their actions, particularly at night.
Teeth aren’t built to withstand the constant force and abrasion of bruxing (grinding). In
most cases, grinding teeth exerts 250 pounds of force per square inch of tooth surface.
WHAT CAUSES TEETH GRINDING:
Usually, bruxism is a “multifactorial” condition, meaning it can be caused by a
combination of many different factors. Common causes of teeth grinding/bruxism include:
• Disordered sleep breathing (sleep apnea)
• Depression and/or anxiety
• High levels of stress/poor stress response
• Poor occlusion/bite (when your upper and lower teeth don’t meet the way they
• Chronic or acute trauma to the mouth and/or jaw
• Genetic predisposition
• Neurotransmitter disruptions
• Use of antidepressants, amphetamines, anti-anxiety drugs, or antipsychotics
• Nicotine use
• Frequent alcohol use
• Excessive coffee intake
WHY IS A NIGHTGUARD PRESCRIBED FOR TEETH GRINDING (BRUXISM) ?
Night guards are prescribed for teeth grinding because your teeth would otherwise wear
down and age prematurely. Guards offer protection for your tooth enamel.
This is most important for your back teeth (molars) because they’re most susceptible to
If you have TMJ from bruxism, a night guard may help to relieve soreness in your jaw
ADVANTAGES OF USING NIGHTGUARD:
• Prevent Excessive Wear
Wearing a night guard protects your teeth from excessive wear and tear. This is
because people tend to grind their teeth at night while they are asleep. Teeth
grinding on teeth are a major problem. It can cause your teeth to wear down and
cause damage to your enamel. Having a plastic buffer will protect your teeth from
• Keeping Your Teeth In Place with a Night Guard
Your teeth actually move, or rather drift. So, by wearing a night guard you actually
keep them in place. Wouldn’t you want all that money spent on braces and dental
cosmetic surgery to be well spent? Protect your teeth by keeping them in place and
• Relaxed Bite
A night guard will allow for you to have a good bite while you sleep. By this, we
mean that your facial muscles will be relaxed and that your bite will be in a good
• Prevents Snoring
Did you know that a night guard can help you with snoring? Your night guard
actually creates a small space that allows for air to flow more efficiently, which in
turn allows you to breathe better while you sleep.
• Bone Loss Splint
As mentioned earlier, your teeth tend to drift. If you experienced bone loss, this
can be a big problem. By wearing this you can effectively have it act as a splint. It
will keep your teeth in your mouth because it will prevent them from drifting.
Drifting due to bone loss tends to be more common with older patients.
NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF A NIGHTGUARD:
There are little to no side effects to wearing a nightguard. As mentioned in the
introductory paragraph, the night guard’s purpose is to act as a protective device for your
teeth; however, it can lead to small problems as well.
Over-the-counter night guards are cheaper and are not carefully molded to suit your jaw
and teeth perfectly. They come in freebie sizes (size that is adequate for all). Due to this,
an over-the-counter user might start experiencing discomfort and, more importantly,
If cared for properly, a custom-fitted night guard from a dental professional can last years.
Store-bought night guards, on the other hand, may not last more than a few months, even
with regular cleaning and care.
DO YOU NEED A NIGHTGUARD?
Most people with bruxism are completely unaware that they need a night guard, so how
can you know for sure?
You wake up with teeth and jaw pain:
If you’re grinding your teeth at night, you may wake up with significant pain in your teeth,
jaw or face. Your jaw may feel stiff and sore from constant movement during the night. It
may also click or pop when you chew or open your mouth. Bruxism can also affect the
ears, causing ringing or buzzing sound and occasionally hearing loss. Wearing a nightguard
will prevent the grinding and clenching, therefore helping to prevent such facial pain in the
You wake up with a headache:
Likewise, people with bruxism often experience headaches in the morning from the
pressure they have been putting on their jaw when they sleep. The pain will generally be
centred around the sides and back of your head. If you are experiencing headaches in the
morning and are confident it is not from sight, tiredness or dehydration, make an
appointment with your dentist.
Your teeth are worn or chipped:
Bruxism can lead to teeth being worn down from the pressure of constant grinding and
clenching. This will expose your teeth to sensitivity, so you may find that you struggle to
eat very hot or cold foods. You can also tell if you have bruxism because your front teeth
look shorter, cracked, flat or obviously chipped. The wearing down of teeth can eventually
lead to fillings and crowns being needed, so wearing a nightguard is a good way to
prevent further damage.
Whilst stress isn’t a direct reason for needing a nightguard, it can often be the cause of
teeth grinding and clenching. If you go to bed feeling stressed, tense or worried, chances
are you may inadvertently clench your teeth in your sleep. Try to relax before you go to
bed by taking a long bath or trying breathing exercises.
Your partner has noticed:
One of the most common ways people can find out that they have bruxism is because
their partner has noticed them grinding and clenching their teeth in their sleep. It can be
quite disruptive for someone you’re sharing a bed with and can prevent them from getting
a good night’s sleep themselves.
Whilst all the above are common reasons for needing a nightguard, the best way to tell for
sure is by making an appointment with your dentist. So, if you find yourself in a spot among
the reasons above, do not hesitate to visit us. Get guarded soon!!