Mouth guards protect athletes’ teeth from a blow to the mouth or other forms of impact, but what about people who want to wear them for other reasons? You may be interested in wearing a mouth guard at night while you sleep to prevent teeth grinding.
Although mouth guards are typically only designed to protect teeth from sports injuries, there are other reasons why these inventions can be useful.
In general dentistry, mouth guards for teeth grinding are common. Many people are unaware that they even grind or clench their teeth at night, only realizing they do so when their dentist points out damages or they begin to suffer from jaw pain.
A dental sleep guard can help prevent bruxism, or teeth grinding. There are two types of bruxism to know about:
- Sleep bruxism
- Wake-time bruxism
Sleep teeth grinding can be caused by elevated stress levels, anxiety, alcohol consumption, smoking and trauma. It also affects more than just adults; the Cleveland Clinic reports that 15 to 33 percent of children grind their teeth in their sleep.
Teeth grinding at night can result in worn down, loose, uneven or even fractured teeth. People may also begin to suffer from jaw locking and pain caused by damage to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
Wake-time teeth grinding is often a stress-induced habit; people are often unaware that they carry so much tension in their jaw, which results in gnashing and crushing their teeth together.
While daytime bruxism is rare (affecting only around 10 percent of the population), it can cause significant dental damage. Although patient awareness is the best way to reduce daytime teeth grinding, a mouth guard can also be helpful in the early stages of recovery.
Most mouth guards are usually too bulky to wear during the day, but there are ultra-thin, custom acrylic mouth guards that won’t affect speech and are barely noticeable. Biofeedback, stress management and aversion therapy can also help you stop grinding your teeth during the day.
What’s the Difference Between a Ready-Made or Custom Mouth guard?
Athletes usually have custom mouth guards that perfectly fit into their mouths and protect their teeth; the average person may do well enough with a mouth guard from the store. Ready-made mouth guards are more affordable, but they may also not stay in place properly or be too big for your mouth.
It’s best to talk to your dentist about wearing a mouth guard to protect your teeth; they can work with you to make the best decision and can even order you a custom mouth guard using a mold of your teeth.