Teeth-grinders, heed this: The earlier you catch the damage, the better your prognosis.
Want to know one excellent way to combat the bothersome habit of nighttime bruxism, or teeth grinding? Use of a night guard -- every time you sleep. If you think the trouble or expense of a dental night guard isn't worth it, or you aren't even entirely sure it's tooth-grinding behind what seem to be increasingly shorter teeth, headaches, jaw pain and a perturbed sleep partner, it's probably time to visit your dentist. Based on the amount of damage you may have already done and the symptoms you describe, your dentist can determine whether a night mouth guard is right for you.
Creating Your Dental Night Guard
Once your dentist determines that you're a good candidate for a night guard, he or she will create one that's custom-made for your mouth. A professionally made night guard for teeth is composed of soft material and slides over one row of your teeth. Once your dental night guard is in place, you can sleep soundly knowing that even if you do grind your teeth once you're asleep, your upper and lower teeth will no longer make contact. One example of a prescribed night mouth guard is the Sleep Right® night guard. The Sleep Right night guard is available in three formats: Slim-Comfort, Secure-Comfort and Dura-Comfort. The Sleep Right night guard is known for its comfortable, non-bulky fit.
It's important to note that a night guard isn't always covered by dental insurance. Given the out-of-pocket cost of a dental night guard -- it can be as much as $900 -- you may be tempted to purchase an over-the-counter version. While this type of night mouth guard might temporarily do the trick, it's not custom-fit to your mouth. The end result is that this store-bought night guard for teeth may be uncomfortable and make it nearly impossible to get a good night's sleep!
If a night guard is recommended for you and you don't have the funds, discuss your options. Believe it or not, your dentist is on your side! Many dental offices will set up payment plans or work with you to help you to get the dental treatment or dental night guard you need.
Are You a Night-Grinder?
Most people who grind their teeth at night don't even realize it. If you think you might be a night-grinder, ask yourself some questions. Does it seem that your teeth are fitting together in new and perplexing ways? Are you sure that you don't have cavities, but you still experience sensitive teeth that look like they've been filed down? Does your sleep partner complain that sleeping next to you is akin to the sound of fingernails scraping along a chalkboard? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you could be suffering from bruxism. Bruxism is not an uncommon nighttime phenomena. It may be mild and sporadic or seemingly unending and frequent. And sure, during times of intense duress, some of you may even find yourself grinding away during waking hours. The big difference is that during waking hours, it's easy to correct behavior as you notice it. But spending every night grinding away in your sleep not knowing there's a problem and the results could render your teeth useless or you toothless.
The most effective solution for preventing teeth grinding is to wear a night guard for teeth.
Causes and Next Steps
Although the causes of tooth-grinding aren't fully known, stress may be a contributing factor. Other schools of thought chock this condition up to sleeping problems, crooked or missing teeth, or a malocclusion.
What is known is that those who grind or clench their teeth often wake with pain in their facial region and teeth. The teeth of those who grind are prone to damage such as cracks, factures and even tooth erosion of the dentin(the soft area underneath the tooth's enamel). If you suspect you or someone you love is a tooth-grinder, make an appointment to see a dentist right away. A night guard could be the solution that puts an end to the pain and damage.
Remember, your teeth deserve a rest, and so do you. Whether you're going through a phase or not, the damage that you may be doing can mean expensive repair work down the road. That's why it's always advised to find out whether you need a dental night guard earlier rather than later.
When in doubt, keep in mind that prevention with a night mouth guard today may very well mean peace-of-mind and a better financial situation tomorrow!