Do I Need a Dental Night Guard?

dental night guardDental night guards are usually recommended for patients who suffer from nighttime tooth grinding, also known as bruxism. According to the American Dental Association, bruxism affects around 10-15% Americans, so it’s a pretty common problem. While night guards are typically the treatment of choice for bruxism patients, our dental office in Georgetown would like to explain why, how they help, and options you may have.

Why is a Night Guard Used to Treat Bruxism?

Many people who grind their teeth do so during sleep when they are unaware of the problem. And since they’re unaware, they can’t do anything consciously to help correct it. This is when a night guard can help. Night guards are appliances that are fitted individually to each patient and designed to wear while sleeping. They help keep the patient from grinding their teeth together and limits jaw movement. If bruxism is left untreated, the chance of chipped, cracked, or broken teeth, and problems with TMJ/TMD are increased.

Types of Night Guards

There are two types of night guards that may first appear very similar, but are actually quite different. Night guards you can buy at any drugstore are usually cheaper and follow the boil-and-bite method of molding. While they can work to stop tooth grinding, they’re not always the best choice. Custom-made night guards created by a dentist are usually the better option. These professionally crafted night guards use precise molds of your teeth for a tight, proper, comfortable fit. Your dentist will also look at your jaw positioning during the fitting process to ensure your jaw is aligned properly. This may help avoid additional problems with your TMJ (temporomandibular joint) later on.  Custom night guards can also last up to 10 years as opposed to the over-the-counter night guards which may only last a few months before you need a new one.

Other Ways to Treat Tooth Grinding

Night guards are the most commonly recommended treatment method to combat tooth grinding, but just because it’s the most common doesn’t mean it’s the only option. Depending on the case, treatments may include orthodontics, stress reduction exercises, limiting caffeine intake, or considering an alternative medication that may include a stimulant.

Know the Signs of Bruxism

Your dentist in Georgetown may suspect bruxism before you do, but there are signs you should be aware of.

  • Flat or chipped teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Waking up with sore jaw muscles
  • Neck or facial pain
  • Headaches

Bruxism can be treated following a proper diagnosis from a dentist. There’s no need for you to live with pain or at risk for tooth damage and TMJ problems in the future. If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth at night, we encourage you to give our Georgetown dental office a call to schedule an appointment. We’ll evaluate your individual needs and recommend the best treatment option for you.

Back to School Brushing and Dental Care

teen football player with mouthguardIt’s back to school time! Signal the groaning of children and the celebration of parents everywhere!

Getting back into the routine of getting ready for school is vital, no matter if you’re a child, a teenager, or a college student.  Everyone has to jump out of bed and get ready to take on the day’s classes, exams, and after school activities. Be sure that each morning starts with a thorough brushing and flossing of your teeth. Not only will it remove plaque and that ‘morning mouth’ feeling, it will also help to wake you up! Besides, no one wants to go to class with morning breath.

Once classes have started, consider storing a travel toothbrush and a small box of dental floss (or floss picks) in a plastic bag inside your backpack. Because that bit of lettuce from your lunchtime salad doesn’t need to be a part of your smile all afternoon long. Or worse, that garlic smell that seems to linger on your breath from that yummy shrimp pasta. Taking a moment to brush and/or floss will keep you feeling fresh, and more confident, as you continue your busy day.

Many students have sports practice after school. Don’t forget your sports mouthguard! Your Georgetown dentist will tell you that more than 5 million teeth are knocked out every year, with up to 39% of them being from sports injuries. Of those, 80% of dental injuries involve the top front teeth. No matter what age you are, no one wants to deal with the pain (and cost!) of damaging your smile when it can so easily be prevented. Ask your Trade Winds Dental team about sports mouthguards so that you can be sure you have the proper type for your activity level.

Going back to school might not always make you want to smile. But with properly cared for teeth, and your Georgetown dental team here to support you, those confident pearly whites should take you to the head of the class.