Should you be wearing a night guard?

woman making sleep gesture and wearing bite plate in mouth You’ve probably seen your favorite athlete wearing a mouth guard as they play, a device to protect their teeth and jaw from any damage during the game. But there are also devices that are similar to mouth guards that you can benefit from, even if you’re not an athlete in a high-contact sport!

What is a night guard?

A night guard looks very similar to an athlete’s mouth guard – it is a piece of hard plastic that is molded to fit your teeth, and they can do a lot for your health and comfort.

Many people wear night guards when they sleep because they grind their teeth at night (known as “bruxism”). You might not even be aware that you grind your teeth throughout the night. You might find out when your partner tells you that he or she can hear your teeth grinding together as you sleep (yes, it can get that loud!), or your dentist might tell you that your teeth are worn down from years of tooth grinding. Tooth grinding might give you headaches, pain in the jaw and neck, and even ear pain.

You might grind your teeth because of stress or anxiety or because of a sleep disorder. You might also grind your teeth because you have missing or crooked teeth (which may mean you need a dental implant or teeth straightening) or because your mouth and jaw aren’t correctly positioned.

Devices that cover your teeth aren’t just for bruxism, though – they can also help with TMJ symptoms. “TMJ” is a catch-all term for problems with the jaw joint, and it can be caused by bruxism, because of the pressure placed on the jaw that constant tooth grinding can cause. If you have TMJ, your dentist may suggest splint therapy or a neuromuscular oral orthotic, both of which cover the teeth.

Your dentist can help you decide if a night guard or other orthotic device can help you! If you have been having headaches and jaw pain lately, call the Konig Center for Cosmetic and Comprehensive Dentistry in Houston, Texas, for a consultation. Call (713) 668-2289 for an appointment today!

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