You may not notice it or think about it much, but grinding your teeth is bad for your oral health. If you grind your teeth during the night, you may wake up and experience some unpleasant symptoms, such as jaw pain, headaches, broken teeth, uneven wearing of teeth, and others. If you do, you might be experiencing the negative effects of bruxism.
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism is the medical term for grinding, clenching, and gnashing of teeth during sleep. It is usually unintentional and usually occurs in adults.
What Are the Causes of Bruxism?
In many cases, the exact cause of bruxism is unknown, but it may be a neurological problem when the condition develops during childhood. Neurological causes of bruxism include stroke, head injury, brain tumor, and epilepsy.
There are two categories of bruxism: nocturnal and diurnal.
Nocturnal bruxism is the most common type. It occurs during sleep, typically at night. Meanwhile, diurnal bruxism is far less common and occurs while the person is awake.
How Bad Is Dental Grinding to Your Health?
Bruxism is a medical condition that is not curable but can be treated to lessen its symptoms. However, if the condition is left untreated, it can be detrimental to the patient's overall health.
Bruxism can wear down your teeth and harm your jaw joint. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to talk to your dentist or dental care professional so that they can tell you what you can do. They may recommend you to wear a nightguard.
How Nightguards Can Help
A night guard is a soft, plastic mouthguard that fits over the upper or lower teeth. The dentist will take an impression of your teeth and send it to a dental lab to create a customized dental guard. This device is worn every night during sleep and protects the teeth from damage and discomfort when you grind your teeth.
The dentist may suggest that you wear a nightguard if you have experienced any of these symptoms:
- Pain in your jaw or mouth when you wake up
- Teeth that are worn or damaged from grinding
- A loud or unusual grinding sound during sleep
- A previous diagnosis of bruxism
- A family history of bruxism
What You Should Know Before You Get a Nightguard
Dental night guards are generally used only when you sleep. You must wear them every night to prevent tooth damage.
Some people may have an allergic reaction to the material of the night guard. If you have had a reaction to a particular material in the past, talk to your dentist about other options.
If you have a history of obstructive sleep apnea, it is best to consult your physician before using a nightguard. Also, a nightguard is not a replacement for your regular oral health routine. You should still regularly brush your teeth, use mouthwash, and visit your dentist.
How a Nightguard Works
When you wear a nightguard at night, you will experience reduced pain and damage to your teeth and jaw even when you grind your teeth. The night guard acts as a splint worn over your teeth, protecting the teeth from grinding damage. It essentially absorbs the impact that your teeth may otherwise experience.
Bruxism is a condition that may affect children and adults alike. Unless it is remedied, it can be detrimental to your oral health. If you grind your teeth at night, you may notice teeth wearing down, headaches, jaw pain, and other symptoms. Your dentist may suggest that you wear a nightguard to protect your teeth. With regular use, your teeth will heal, and your symptoms will dissipate.
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