Mouthguards and Night Guards
If you frequently wake up with headaches and soreness in the jaw, you may have bruxism, which is the medical term for teeth grinding. Over time, this condition can damage your teeth. To prevent this, we often prescribe mouthguards for our patients to wear at night.
Problems caused by Bruxism
Patients with bruxism will grind, gnash, or clench their teeth at night. Most of the time, they aren't even aware they're doing it. Teeth are not designed to endure this constant force. Untreated bruxism can lead to several problems, including migraines, recession of gums, enamel loss, and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Teeth can also become yellowed or fractured.
Causes of Bruxism
Teeth grinding has many different causes. Some people are genetically predisposed to it, but it is also caused by disorders like Parkinson's or Huntington's diseases or sleep apnea. It is also caused by misaligned teeth (known as malocclusion) and neurotransmitter disruptions.
Lifestyle also plays a role. Patients who drink too much alcohol or coffee increase their risk, as do those who use tobacco. People with depression, anxiety, high levels of stress, or poor stress management are also at risk. Amphetamines, antipsychotics, antidepressants, or anti-anxiety drugs used to treat these conditions can also bring on bruxism.
Night Mouthguard Treatment
One of the most common treatment options for teeth grinding is wearing a mouthguard at night. This device fits over your teeth to prevent them from grinding together, chipping, cracking, or straining your jaw muscles. You can buy one at most pharmacies without a prescription. To use it, place it in boiling water, allow it to cool for a few seconds, and then bite into it gently so it can shape to your teeth.
We can also prescribe mouthguards that are made in a laboratory after we make an impression of your teeth. Mouthguards made by dental professionals fit better, are more comfortable and are of a higher quality than over-the-counter ones, though they are more expensive.
Alternative Treatments for Bruxism
If you find a mouthguard uncomfortable or undesirable, we have a few other options that you might want to ask about. If misaligned teeth are causing you to grind your teeth, then straightening them through orthodontic devices such as braces can fix this.
Anxiety, depression, and stress are also leading causes of bruxism, so reducing your stress levels can go a long way in treating teeth grinding. Dr. Gregory J. Gorman, DMD may suggest stress reduction methods for you to use at home so that you can relax better and stop grinding your teeth. Professional counseling is also an option.
We might also recommend avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, as well as alcohol and tobacco. Medications like antidepressants can also cause bruxism, so please tell Dr. Gregory J. Gorman, DMD which medications you are on so he can recommend alternatives if the situation demands it. The important thing to keep in mind is that bruxism is treatable with the help of a dental professional, and we are here to help.
For more information, please contact our office at (970) 812-3959.