Grinding or clenching your teeth is not just an annoying behavior; it can cause serious damage to your teeth and jaw. Bruxism is the medical term for this condition, which can often be caused by stress, anxiety, tension or earaches. While you can curb this behavior when you are awake, many people with bruxism will grind or clench their teeth when they are asleep.
Did you know that an estimated 10 percent of people (up to 15 percent of children) grind their teeth at night? This is known as nocturnal bruxism, and it can lead to some serious consequences if it goes unchecked. Don’t worry; since you may not be aware of your nighttime habit, a dentist can provide a customized nightguard to protect your teeth and minimize the damage from bruxism.
Your jaw muscles are extremely strong, exerting up to 600 pounds of pressure when you clench your teeth together. While this mechanism is useful for chewing, when there is nothing between your top and lower teeth, this pressure is put directly on the teeth. Bruxism can lead to cracked or shattered teeth, wear down enamel and put excess stress on the jaw joint. This damage can cause TMJ/TMD, tooth misalignment and pain for the sufferers of bruxism.
How Does a Nightguard Help?
A nightguard is a device that fits over and between your teeth, keeping them from touching when you are asleep. Even if you attempt to grind or clench your teeth, the guard will protect them from damage. This appliance can also help those who have TMJ/TMD, repositioning the jaw and relieving pain associated with this condition.
Our team at Family Smiles Dental can create a customized nightguard that will fit comfortably and offer the best protection for your teeth. While there are over-the-counter versions, these can be uncomfortable and don’t offer the same protection as one that is made for your teeth and bite. If you know you have bruxism or have been told you grind your teeth while sleeping, come see us for an exam. We can help treat your bruxism, saving your teeth and jaw joint from further damage and pain.
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