Mouth guards can be effective in managing teeth grinding, also known as bruxism. They work by providing a protective barrier between the upper and lower teeth, which helps to:
- Reduce Damage: By cushioning the teeth, mouthguards prevent excessive wear and tear and protect the enamel from damage.
- Reduce Pain: They can help in reducing jaw pain, headaches, and other discomforts associated with bruxism by distributing the pressure more evenly.
- Prevent Noise: Mouth guards can also reduce the noise made by grinding, which their sleeping partner will thank! But you need to choose the right mouth guard (also known as a night guards or bite guards).
If your teeth grinding is severe and causing damage to your teeth, then you need to see a dentist. Based on their assessment you should get a better idea of what solutions are best for your condition.
The Science Behind MouthGuards and Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding, medically termed bruxism, often occurs unconsciously during sleep. This condition can lead to many issues, including an aching jaw, damaged teeth, and even chronic headaches.
The primary function of a mouth guard is to form a protective barrier between your upper teeth and lower teeth. This barrier prevents the physical wear and tear of teeth grinding and also reduces the strain on your jaw muscles.
Night Guards as a Therapeutic Tool
Mouthguards for teeth grinding - also known as night guards - distribute the force exerted during tooth grinding. So instead of all that force (up to 120kg) being concentrated on one area, the mouthguard will spread that force across your teeth more evenly. Boxers, fighters and other athletes wear mouthguards for the same reason.
This even distribution of pressure can help people with bruxism, sensitive teeth or delicate dental work.
Custom Made vs. Store Bought Night Guards
There are broadly two types of guards: over-the-counter and custom-made. Over-the-counter mouth guards are readily available at most pharmacies and online stores (like this one!). They are affordable and come in standard sizes. The one-size-fits-all approach may not be suitable for everyone however.
With over-the-counter guards there's a lot of variation in design and quality. So it's important that you read all of the features and reviews of the mouth guard you're considering to make an informed decision.
A custom mouthguard is made to custom fit the unique contours of your mouth, teeth and gums. Crafted based on the mould of your teeth taken by a dentist, these guards offer a snug fit and superior protection. The precise fit ensures comfort and maximises the guard's effectiveness against teeth grinding.
Custom guards are of course more expensive than their over-the-counter counterparts. But their tailored design can be a worthwhile investment for chronic grinders, particularly those who have tried other options without relief. However, if your teeth grinding is mild to moderate you may be better off exploring less expensive options first.
Introducing Happy Sleep for Teeth Grinders
Happy Sleep prevents teeth grinding - and all the problems that come with it.
Happy Sleep is designed for comfort and provides a resilient protective barrier against teeth grinding, letting you sleep... happily!
The soft dentist designed mouthpiece fits snugly and reduces the headaches, damaged teeth, neck, and jaw pain that comes from teeth grinding.
On the outside, the flexible flap snaps into place, covering your mouth and cheeks and stopping your jaw from dropping for a worry free sleep.
Additional Benefits of Using Mouth Guards
Beyond preventing teeth grinding, mouth guards like "Happy Sleep" offer additional health benefits. For individuals with sleep apnea, a mouth guard can help maintain an open airway, reducing apnea episodes.
They can also protect dental work, such as crowns and veneers, from the pressure and wear of grinding. The reduction in grinding sound contributes to a quieter and more peaceful sleep environment, benefiting not just the grinder but also their sleeping partner.
What causes teeth grinding?
The leading cause of teeth grinding while awake is stress and anxiety. Stress can affect the nervous system and result in involuntary teeth grinding.
Teeth grinding at night (aka Sleep Bruxism) is considered a sleep-related movement disorder. People who clench or grind their teeth during sleep are more likely to have other sleep disorders like snoring and sleep apnea.
Misaligned teeth (or malocclusion) can also lead to teeth grinding, as the discrepancies between the lower and upper jaw result in increased pressure on teeth when they come into contact.
Certain medications - such as antidepressants and stimulants - have also been linked to teeth grinding.
Other factors that can exacerbate bruxism symptoms include excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and high caffeine intake.
Vitamin deficiencies - particularly vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium - have also been associated with teeth grinding.
Long-Term Effects of Teeth Grinding Without Intervention
Teeth grinding, if left unchecked, can lead to serious dental and oral health, issues over time. Continuous grinding can wear down the enamel, potentially leading to chipped teeth, increased tooth sensitivity, and even tooth loss. In more severe cases, chronic bruxism can result in temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, causing persistent jaw pain, headaches, and difficulties in jaw movement.
Signs You Need a Mouth Guard
Warning signs include waking up with a sore jaw, facial pain or headaches, noticeable wear on teeth, increased tooth sensitivity, and sounds of grinding at night reported by a sleep partner. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should consult with a dentist who can assess your condition and recommend whether a mouth guard is suitable for you.
Can You Still Grind Teeth with Mouth Guard?
A sleep mouth guard technically doesn't prevent teeth grinding. At least not in the short term, and it doesn't stop your jaw muscles from clenching. Instead, it protects and cushions your teeth against clenching and grinding.
They can also help to re-establish the normal gap between your top and bottom teeth which over the long-term can reduce and even eliminate teeth clenching in combination with other bruxism treatments.
The effectiveness of a mouth guard also depends on its fit and how consistently it's worn.
How Long Do I Need To Use a Night Guard?
The duration for using a night guard can vary widely depending on individual circumstances and the underlying reasons for bruxism. The only way to know for sure is by getting assessed by a dentist. But here are some key considerations:
Underlying Causes: If your teeth grinding is due to temporary stress or anxiety, you might only need to use the night guard during periods of high stress. However, if your bruxism is chronic or related to a sleep disorder, long-term use may be necessary.
Dental Health: The condition of your teeth and jaw alignment can also influence how long you need to use a night guard.
Wear and Tear: Night guards, especially softer materials, can wear out over time. Regular inspection for signs of wear and tear is important. A worn-out night guard may not provide adequate protection and will need to be replaced. For example, we generally recommend replacing the Happy Sleep for Teeth Grinders mouthguard every 12 months.
Symptom Management: If your symptoms improve and your dentist agrees, you might be able to reduce or stop using the night guard. However, if symptoms return, you may need to start using it again.
Guidance from a Dental Professional: Regular check-ups with your dentist are important. They can assess the wear on your night guard, the health of your teeth, and any changes in your bruxism. Your dentist will advise you on how long to continue using your night guard or if any adjustments are needed.
Are Mouth Guards for Teeth Grinding Worth It?
Absolutely. Mouth guards are a proven solution for managing bruxism. They not only protect your teeth from wear and tear but also alleviate associated symptoms like jaw pain and headaches.
Compare the cost of a night guard like Happy Sleep vs getting a cracked tooth repaired and you can see the investment can quickly pay off. It's the difference between having good insurance vs having none.
And if you factor in the improvements in teeth, pain, overall mouth health, and perhaps most importantly a better night's sleep, it becomes a no-brainer.