Do you often wake up with jaw pain, headaches, or worn-down teeth? If so, you might be experiencing the detrimental effects of teeth grinding or clenching, a condition known as bruxism. Fortunately, there is a simple yet effective solution to protect your teeth and alleviate discomfort – the dental night guard. Here, we’ll delve into what a dental night guard is, how it works, and whether you might benefit from using one.
What is a Dental Night Guard?According to research by King’s College London, around 6.5 million people in the U.K grind their teeth in their sleep, a stat that has continued to rise since the COVID-19 pandemic. A dental night guard, also known as an occlusal splint or bite guard, is a custom-made oral appliance designed to be worn while you sleep. It is crafted from durable, comfortable materials and serves as a protective barrier between your upper and lower teeth. The night guard helps to distribute the forces generated from grinding or clenching, preventing excessive wear on your teeth and minimising strain on your jaw muscles
What Does a Dental Night Guard Do?A dental night guard is often used to alleviate a number of oral symptoms and promotes the following: Teeth Protection – Bruxism can exert tremendous pressure on your teeth, leading to enamel erosion, chips, fractures, and even tooth loss over time. By wearing a dental night guard, the appliance absorbs the impact of grinding and clenching, shielding your teeth from the damaging effects of these habits. Jaw Muscle Relaxation – Teeth grinding and clenching not only affects your teeth but also strains your jaw muscles, leading to pain and discomfort. A dental night guard creates a slight separation between your upper and lower teeth, which helps to alleviate the tension in your jaw muscles. This relaxation can reduce symptoms such as jaw pain, headaches, and even temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. Improved Sleep Quality – Bruxism can disrupt your sleep patterns, leaving you feeling fatigued and unrested. By wearing a dental night guard, you can experience improved sleep quality as the appliance helps to prevent grinding noises and jaw muscle contractions.
What Causes Bruxism?Bruxism can be attributed to a number of things, but it is often linked to:
- Stress and anxiety
- Sleep problems such as snoring or sleep apnea
- Medications, such as antidepressants
- Drinking lots of alcohol
- Excessive caffeine intake
- Drug use