A mouth guard for teeth clenching helps to protect your teeth when you are clenching down on them. Habitual teeth grinding and teeth clenching (known as bruxism in medical terminology) can be very damaging to overall oral health, causing a host of issues such as cracked or chipped teeth, headaches, jaw pain, and TMJ disorders. A mouth guard, also known as a night guard or a dental guard, is a simple and effective way to protect your teeth if you suffer from bruxism.
In this article, we discuss the difference between teeth grinding and teeth clenching (the two ways people exhibit bruxism), who needs a night guard, and the best night guard for teeth clenching. In addition, we also present some ways to stop clenching or grinding teeth.
Bruxism: Clenching and Grinding
If you experience bruxism, which is the unconscious grinding or clenching of teeth, chances are you have been told by your dentist that you need a night guard. Teeth grinding and teeth clenching are two different ways bruxism manifests. Since the complications are different, the mouth guard for teeth grinding also differs from the mouth guard for teeth clenching.
Teeth clenching is the tightening of the jaw. This exerts a large force between the upper and lower teeth, and it also strains the jaw muscles. Therefore, excessive pressure can cause headaches, earaches, soreness of the jaw, cracked teeth, and it can also lead to temporomandibular joint problems (commonly known as TMJ disorders.)
Teeth grinding is slightly different from teeth clenching. Grinding is essentially the forceful rubbing together of the upper and lower teeth repeatedly. This grinding can flatten out the natural grooves of the tooth, weaken the tooth as a whole and potentially even cause tooth loss. Like teeth clenching, teeth grinding may also cause headaches, stiffness and pain in the jaw.
How Can a Night Guard for Teeth Clenching Help Me?
The most common and effective remedy for clenching and grinding during sleep is a custom bite guard. A mouth guard for clenching works on a fairly simple principle. It creates a barrier between your teeth that acts as a protective layer.
While both teeth grinder and clenchers can benefit from wearing a mouth guard, the types are mouth guards different slightly. With clenching, the mouth guard reduces the amount of pressure that is exerted on the upper and lower jaw. With grinding, the mouth guard helps by providing a protective barrier between the upper teeth and lower teeth, thus reducing the chance of tooth damage.
A mouth guard for teeth clenching is typically made from a softer, flexible rubber material. The soft material acts as a cushion and helps absorb the clenching forces.
A mouth guard for grinding teeth is usually made from either a dual laminate material (e.g. soft on the inside and hard acrylic on the outside) or entirely from a hard acrylic material. The hard surface of the acrylic material stands up to the wear of habitual tooth grinding.
Either way, the mouth guard will prevent tooth-to-tooth contact and minimize the damage caused by bruxism.
Here are the benefits of using a mouth guard for bruxism:
- Preventing tooth damage
- Reducing muscle strain, jaw pain, and headaches
- Avoiding damage to the temporomandibular joints (TMJ)
- Constraining the bruxing pattern
Mouth guards should be worn long-term, or at least until you notice an improvement in the condition (if it was caused by a stressful situation in your life, which has now passed). The logic behind using a mouth guard is simple: it’s far easier to replace a piece of plastic than your teeth.
Best Mouth Guard for Teeth Clenching
The best mouth guard for teeth grinding or clenching is a professional quality, custom fit mouth guard. For clenching specifically, it should be a guard made from a softer, flexible material that absorbs the clenching forces.
While the low price of over-the-counter mouth guards may be tempting, those dental night guards do not provide the comfort and protection of a professional custom night guard. Often times, the guards are one size fits all. Some over-the-counter guards offer some customization (e.g. you can put it in hot water and it becomes somewhat moldable); however, overall, they are bulky and uncomfortable. The material of over-the-counter guards also offer limited protection and durability.
A custom mouth guard is made specifically for you from materials that reflect your condition, which means it will fit like a glove. Furthermore, you won’t have to worry about buying a new one every few months.
Some additional considerations when purchasing the perfect dental night guard for you:
- A comfortable fit - the comfort of your night guard is very important to a good night’s sleep. Your guard should fit snugly on your teeth, but it should not put any pressure on any of your teeth.
- Customization - typically, you can choose to have a custom night guard made for either your top or bottom teeth. You can also specify the material for your guard: a hard acrylic guard for heavy grinding, or a softer material for teeth clenching.
- Safe materials - since it’s a product you’re putting into your mouth, you want to make sure the night guard is free of any chemicals or material to which you are sensitive. E.g. you may look for a night guard that is BPA free, latex free, etc.
- Warranties - a well-made custom night guard should be made to last. You may want to look for a night guard that comes with a warranty period.
- Guarantees - finally, a mouth guard that comes with a money back satisfaction guarantee is always preferable, since it protects you in case the product doesn’t live up to your expectations.
If you want the quality and comfort of a custom night guard, but don’t want to pay $400 - $800 at the dentist, you can order one directly from the source: Pro Teeth Guard offers you the same high-quality professionally made custom night guard at an affordable price.
When Do I Need a Night Guard?
Many different conditions are associated with bruxism; however, the exact cause is unclear. Bruxism is often associated with stress. It can also be associated with epilepsy, other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea.
Many people are not aware that they suffer from bruxism because they suffer from sleep bruxism and tend to grind or clench their teeth during the night. In fact, most of the time people become aware of this condition once they start seeing the consequences (e.g. their dentist notices wear on their teeth enamel, or chipped or cracked teeth) or a partner observes the problem when they’re asleep. In addition, if you tend to wake up with an inexplicable pain in your teeth, jaw, or head, you might be one of the many that suffer from bruxism.
According to the in vivo research data published in the Journal of the American Dental Association volume 131, the natural enamel wears about 30 micrometers per year. However, that’s not the case with people that have severe bruxism. Their tooth enamel is destroyed 10 times faster.
Regular dental checkups will help you determine if you grind your teeth. If your dentist notices the symptoms of bruxism, he or she will recommend that you get a night guard. Do not delay if your dentist has recommended a night guard for you, since every night you sleep without a night guard, you could be doing further damage to your teeth.
Ways to Stop Grinding or Clenching Teeth
While a mouth guard will minimize the damage due to bruxism, it usually does not stop the symptoms (e.g. grinding and clenching teeth) altogether. Below are some potential helpful suggestions for how to stop teeth grinding and clenching:
Natural Remedies - stress is generally associated with bruxism and stress reduction may be helpful in reducing bruxism. Diet is another component of your health that may be linked to bruxism symptoms. Avoiding certain food (e.g. alcohol and caffeine) can be helpful in reducing bruxism, so can ensuring that your intake of vitamins and minerals (specifically C, B-5, calcium, magnesium, and potassium) is sufficient.
Medical Treatment - certain medications such as muscle relaxants and prescriptions for anxiety can potentially help manage bruxism symptoms. In some cases, studies have shown Botox injections in the jaw can reduce bruxism symptoms in people with severe cases. As with any medical procedure, you should seek advice from your doctor regarding any treatments.
For more information, read further in this article on How to Stop Grinding Teeth
Teeth clenching or grinding can do serious long term harm to your overall oral health. A dental mouth guard offers a protective barrier and helps minimize the damage done by bruxism.
The best night guard for teeth clenching is a professionally made custom night guard. Pro Teeth Guard offers professional quality custom night guards at an affordable price.