Mouthguards for Sports, Sure. But for Sleep?

Best_DentistMouthguards for sleeping? Why would you need one?  For people who grind or clench their teeth at night, a night guard is as important as a sports mouthguard.

“Tooth grinding and jaw clenching can do real damage to your natural teeth, crowns, or fillings,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix dental office. “And you may not know you are doing it. But if you wake up with painful or tired jaws, it’s a good idea to bring it up with your dentist.”

Tooth grinding is called bruxism, and most people think it’s caused by stress. The website WebMD says that sometimes bruxism is caused by anxiety or stress, but it “is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth.” The most common way to know if you are grinding or clenching your teeth is to ask a loved one who sleeps in the same room with you. Another tell-tale sign is a dull headache when you wake up in the morning.

The long-term effects of bruxism are serious. “You can damage existing teeth as well as permanent bridges, inlays, and crowns,” says Dr. Ford. “In mild to moderate cases of bruxism, you can wear your teeth down, crack fillings, or break crowns,” says Dr. Ford.

And if the grinding or clenching gets worse, it can result in damage to the joints in your jaw, and may even cause hearing loss.

If you suspect you are grinding your teeth, ask your dentist to check for tell-tale signs of damage. If you are grinding your teeth, you can take some steps to avoid habits that encourage tooth grinding or clenching:

  • Avoid alcohol, especially before bedtime. Alcohol increases the likelihood of tooth grinding.
  • Don’t chew on anything except food. Pens, pencils, rulers, and toothpicks are not meant to be chewed. It also develops the habit of biting down on hard surfaces.
  • If you feel yourself clenching your jaw and teeth, deliberately open your bite and put your tongue between your teeth. That’s enough to relax your jaw and prevent you from biting down.

A few simple habits will help you keep your teeth in good shape and your smile bright.

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