Night guards are effective tools in the battle against bruxism. They're also user-friendly, non-invasive, affordable, and fairly comfortable. However, wearing one adds an extra step to your bedtime routine after brushing your teeth using your toothbrush and toothpaste. That is why, some users would be delighted to drop this extra step. So you might ask yourself, “Do you have to wear a night guard forever?”
The answer to that question depends on you, your circumstances, and your unique anatomy. Knowing when it might be safe to ditch your night guard and why you needed the night guard in the first place can help you decide what is right for you.
When Is it Safe to Stop Wearing a Night Guard?
A night guard is an oral appliance that is designed to protect your teeth from the damaging effects of bruxism's characteristic nighttime teeth grinding. If you've been advised to wear a night guard, two things need to be true before you can safely shelve the device:
- The tooth grinding and jaw clenching have stopped.
- The stress in your life when your bruxism began is no longer an issue.
Why Do People Wear Night Guards?
The exact reasons and causes of bruxism aren't always clear, but there's a strong connection between bruxism and stress. Medications, genetic factors, and lifestyle choices may also play roles. Experts also point to links to certain health issues, including temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders and sleep disorders like sleep apnea.
However, it’s clear bruxism's nighttime tooth grinding and jaw clenching aren't just annoyances. They're hazardous to your oral health.
Over time, tooth grinding and jaw clenching can lead to toothaches, jaw pain, earaches, and severe headaches. The behaviors can also harm the teeth by causing tooth wear, cracks, and breaks that damage your smile and set the stage for cavity formation.
One type of damage is exposed dentin. As your teeth grind together, the enamel that forms the tough outer coating becomes compromised. This causes dentin to be exposed, leaving sensitive nerves and tissues unprotected. This can lead to consistent pain.
A night guard forms a thin, physical barrier that prevents direct contact between the upper and lower teeth. This helps shield your teeth from the pressure and friction of grinding and clenching. By limiting the impact of the damaging forces on the teeth, a night guard offers a high value of preventative care. It saves you from the direct discomfort and expense of dental disasters.
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How Do I Find Out If I'll Have to Wear a Night Guard Forever?
You'll need to wear your night guard for as long as you battle bruxism. To see if your bruxism has stopped, pay a visit to your regular dental office and bring your night guard.
The signs of bruxism can be subtle. Ask your dentist to examine your teeth and your night guard to see if your tooth grinding is still a problem. If they don't see signs of active grinding but your life is particularly stressful right now, your dentist may tell you to keep wearing your night guard. Remember, stress and anxiety are strongly associated with bruxism.
Night Guards Keep Your Teeth Safe
Night guards are worn to protect your oral health from the destructive impacts of bruxism, so it’s essential you wear your night guard as long as teeth grinding and jaw clenching continue. For some people, that may mean wearing a night guard for a few months or years when life is especially stressful. For others, a night guard might be a lifelong companion and they have to to wear a night guard forever.
Whether you're investing in your first night guard or in need of a new one, Pro Teeth Guard can help. We offer custom-fit mouthguards online for an affordable price. Our products are made in a professional dental lab using professional materials and processes. They're effectively the night guards you’d receive from your dentist.