Using Night Guards While You Sleep

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Who wears Night Guards?

A nightguard is a mouth protector worn by those who can’t help grinding or clenching their teeth while asleep at night. The condition is called bruxism, a forceful and consistent clenching or grinding of the biting surfaces of upper and lower teeth that, over time, can lead to tooth wear, tooth crack, hypersensitive teeth, misalignment, damaged restorations, and even tooth loss. Grinding produces those noises that tend to awake partners, while both grinding and clenching (which may be inaudible) involve the forces that cause headaches, muscle tenderness, and temporomandibular joint pain.

The cause is largely unknown and thought to be multi-factoral. This condition can be potentially serious to warrant a nightguard that provides protection especially during the early stages. Nightguards are of acrylic, either hard or soft, and usually worn over the lower teeth only, though both sets can have each a guard if warranted. It may be a partial guard or one for the whole arch.

You might not even know

Your Federal Way dentist says the goal for wearing nightguards is to protect your dentition from the forces applied to them, though will not treat bruxism itself. The condition is still subject to research and treatment options need further evaluation to determine long-term efficacy.

However, nightguards are still widely used to also protect the joints and ease muscle strain, constrain the pattern of damage, distribute the forces, stabilize teeth and prevent changing of positions, and to also evaluate the extent of the condition. And because bruxism may have a strong psychological association, your dentist in Federal Way may prescribe anti-anxiety medication at some point, recommend relaxation techniques or stress management.

Find out if you have this condition you might not even know about. Keep your next dental visit in mind.

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