What is Bruxism?
Many people are afflicted with bruxism, which is a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth. Clenching is tightly holding your top and bottom teeth together. Grinding is when you slide your teeth back and forth over each other.
Some people suffer from bruxism during the day, but it is a larger problem at night while sleeping. Many people with bruxism wake themselves up in the middle of the night with a loud clenching or grinding sound. Sometimes, the sound is loud enough for sleep partners to be able to hear. For others, bruxism is silent.
Bruxism can affect your oral health by:
- Damaging teeth enamel
- Wearing down teeth
- Causing jaw pain and headaches
- Causing toothaches
- Fracturing teeth
- Irritating your gums
If you grind or clench your teeth you should consider wearing an occlusal splint (night guard) while you sleep.
The Importance of Night Guards
Occlusal splints or night guards are removable dental appliances used to protect your teeth and restoration surfaces and manage mandibular (jaw) dysfunction particularly in people prone to nocturnal (nighttime) clenching and grinding and those with TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders.
These appliances can also be used to stabilize the occlusion (bite) or create space prior to restoration procedures. Fabricated by a dental laboratory, night guards are custom-made from a high quality heat-cured thermoplastic or acrylic resin.
The night guard is custom made for you (an impression of your teeth will be taken) and fits comfortably over either your upper or lower teeth. While you sleep, it prevents your top and bottom teeth from touching.
Benefits of Night Guards
- Protects all of your teeth and the TMJ (jaw joint) from the destructive effects of bruxism.
- Helps to reduce muscle tension and reduce pain in the TMJ area.
- Night guards are quite durable and can be used for up to ten years.
Dr. Hoffman can diagnose bruxism by looking for unusual wear spots on your teeth and assessing related symptoms. He can help you find and repair any damage in the early stages and help prevent further damage to your teeth by recommending a night guard.
For more information concerning TMJ disorders, go to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The website link is https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/tmd.
To learn more about TMJ disorders, go to the ADA video titled Facial Pain from the Dental Minute. The link to this video is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTvDdtTd0jg.