Stress and anxiety affect the human body in many ways. Most people are familiar with the loss of sleep and a sense of conscious worry that can accompany a consistently preoccupied mind. You may not know that many people also express tension by grinding their teeth or unconsciously clenching their jaws. These actions are especially problematic when they occur overnight. Eventually, teeth grinding can result in cracking or other damage to teeth. Fortunately, Splendid Dental Bellaire can help you protect your teeth with nightguards.

Why Teeth Grinding Is Dangerous

Otherwise known as bruxism, teeth grinding can be caused by a variety of elements.  Stress, medications, everyday habits, and sleep routines can all lead to bruxism. During most dental exams, dentists will check for signs that the patient is grinding teeth. Patients may experience jaw pain, cracked tooth enamel, or broken cavity filings. In extreme cases, damage to the jaw bone is possible.

If teeth are already damaged, the dentist may need to perform repairs. Dental fillings or sealants may be required to fix any cracks caused by grinding. Root canals or dental crowns may be necessary in more severe cases.

What are Nightguards?

Nightguards are custom fit dental trays designed to fit over the teeth to keep them separate. A dentist will take an impression of the patient’s mouth to create a custom dental mold. A separate laboratory will then create a nightguard based on that mold. Typically the nightguards are only needed to fit over the top teeth.

Because it is designed for each patient’s mouth, it does not impact breathing or sleep comfortably. Patients insert the nightguard every night before sleep and remove the device in the morning. The dentist will also advise the patient regarding the optimal nightguard care routine.

Benefits of Using Night Guards for Bruxism

Like any solid structure, the friction from grinding teeth can do significant damage to tooth enamel. The longer the grinding continues unimpeded, the more likely serious damage to the teeth can occur.

Using nightguards every night can prevent direct contact between the upper and lower teeth. That effectively protects teeth from the enamel wear or cracking that might otherwise require further dental work. Patients with crowns, dental implants, or veneers may also need to use nightguards to prevent repeated dental operations.

Benefits of Using Night Guards for TMJ

Unfortunately, damage to the teeth isn’t the only potential consequence of teeth grinding.  In some cases, the constant jaw clenching can cause problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The TMJ is a hinge joint that connects the jawbone to the skull.

Patients can experience many symptoms due to TMJ, including:

  • Pain in the jaw or near the joint area
  • Ringing ears or pain around the ears
  • Jaw clicking or difficulty opening and closing the mouth
  • Discomforts while chewing
  • General facial pain or headaches

While surgery and certain injections can ease TMJ pain, nightguards can often provide some relief.  Nightguards can potentially cushion clenching teeth or reposition the mouth into a more comfortable position. Because the risks associated with nightguards are much lower than other options, dentists often recommend them first.

Splendid Dental Bellaire Can Help

Because it often occurs during sleep, many people don’t realize they grind their teeth. Your dentist may notice signs of dental wear, enamel cracking, or broken fillings. Many patients also experienced undiagnosed jaw pain, ringing in the ears, or headaches.

Only your dentist can help you understand if you are grinding your teeth at night. If so, nightguards may be the best way to prevent further damage before it happens. Contact Splendid Dental Bellaire today at 832.365.4860 to find out if nightguards are your solution.