A sleep mouth guard can protect your teeth from bruxism. If you’re waking up with headaches, an aching jaw or facial pain or if your partner complains that you grind your teeth during the night then there’s a high probability that you have sleep bruxism.
Bruxism or teeth grinding is a problem that affects around one in ten people. There are two types of bruxism: sleep bruxism and wake-time bruxism and both are considered to be parafunctional behaviours. This mean that this forced contact between the upper and lower teeth is an example of a body parts not being used in the way they were intended. It means that teeth grinding has no functional purpose.
Sleep bruxism is classified as a sleep-related movement disorder and is characterised by the unconscious act of either grinding, gnashing or clenching the teeth while asleep. Teeth may be in contact during sleep bruxism for up to forty minutes during an hour.
Studies about what causes bruxism are fairly inconclusive, although it is linked to stress, anxiety and the use of stimulants (like caffeine, alcohol and recreational drugs). This means that it is hard to find a cure or teach someone to stop someone grinding their teeth. However, it is important to try and prevent bruxism or the amount you grind your teeth because it can cause some serious damage. In extreme cases, sleep bruxism can lead to cracked and decaying teeth, gum swelling and infections and serious joint pain in your jaw.
The most effective means of preventing teeth grinding is to wear a mouthguard while you sleep. Though this can’t always get rid of the grinding or stop it completely, it does provide a protective barrier for your teeth to halt any further damage. Grinding wears away the enamel, compromising the physical integrity of your teeth and leading to potential nerve damage (and expensive dentist visits).
Mouthguards also provide cushioning for your jaw muscles which receive the brunt of the pressure when you clench or grind your teeth. This will stop you from experiencing jaw pain in the morning or throughout the day, as well as any lasting joint problems in that area. Having a mouthguard can also help to counter the physical movement of grinding and so reduce how often a sufferer grinds or clenches their teeth in the night.
There are a few different types of mouthguards on offer. There are sports mouthguards, often made of stiff plastic and very low cost. As well as these there are over the counter mouthguards, which you can purchase at chemists or convenience stores. These are sometimes known as boil-and-bite mouthguards as you mould them to your teeth after boiling them in hot water. These are softer and more comfortable than sports mouthguards and still very affordable. However, both of these types are very thick and can be difficult to breathe normally in, which makes sleeping with them in quite hard.
The best mouthguards for sleep bruxism are custom-fitted night guards where a mould of your teeth is taken and sent to a lab so that a customised guard can be created specifically for you. One of the great benefits of these mouthguards is that, not only are they designed to fit the contours of your mouth, they also allow for easy speech and normal breathing while being worn. You can pick the firmness of your sleeping mouthguard based on whether you clench or grind your teeth and the severity at which you do this. Severe grinders or ‘bruxers’ should invest in a hard night mouthguard because they offer more durability.
This type of mouthguard can be ordered from your dentist but the downside is that it comes with a hefty price tag. However, you can also order custom-fitted mouthguards from an online dental lab like Pro Teeth Guard. You receive a high quality, professional made mouth guard for teeth grinding but without the added cost and hassle of visiting a clinic.
Once you order your sleeping mouth guard, you are sent a home impression kit in the mail. Using plastic trays and putty, you create a mould of your teeth that you then mail back in a prepaid envelope. The guard is then made from these moulds and you receive it after 6-10 days.
If you’re grinding and clenching your teeth while you sleep, then you need to have a way of protecting them. And the best preventative measure you can take is to purchase some type of mouthguard. In terms of cost and effectiveness, a sleeping mouthguard from a private seller will offer you the most comfortable form of protection without draining your bank account. This means you can sleep peacefully, knowing your teeth are protected. After all, you only get one set of them!