What You Need to Know About Night Guards
Unsure about whether as night guard could help control your grinding problem? Dr. Steven Kacel, D.D.S., is a cosmetic dentist with more than 29 years of experience in the industry. In this article, he tells us about night guards and what they can be used for.
Night guards are custom-made devices that are used to prevent night grinding and night clenching for patients of all ages. The reason why night guards are important for people to use — if necessary — is simple. The wearing down that occurs when a person grinds his teeth each night can wreak havoc on the mouth, and lead to painful problems over the long haul.
If the teeth can’t interdigitate — a fancy word for meeting up together, like all the hills and valleys or like gears of a watch — then that can cause pain throughout the jaw and even cause spasms in the muscles of the neck. When teeth don’t meet for long periods of time, like throughout the night, then the muscles can’t contract well. So the muscles that support the jaw joint in the deck of the mouth and the shoulders can actually cause spasms in the body. That is why night guards are so important — because they can help prevent all those problems with people.
As a dentist, it is pretty easy to tell when I’m seeing a patient who could benefit from wearing a night guard. Commonly, people might say, “Oh, my teeth hurt,” or “Oh, my jaw hurts.” They will usually complain that their teeth hurt when they wake up in the morning — all clear signs that dentists should be watching for.
When I’m looking inside the patient’s mouth, I’ll usually see some form of excessive wear and tear on the teeth, as well. So in the majority of cases, I see the same clear symptoms whenever someone is grinding his teeth at night or clenching his jaw excessively.
Unlike mouth guards, which can occasionally be made too thick for a patient, night guards can’t be made too thick because patients are only wearing them while they are sleeping. So that makes fitting someone for a night guard slightly easier.
Overall, it is important that people who are nighttime grinders, or people who clench their jaws while they sleep, get treatment for their problem as soon as possible. And in many cases, wearing a night guard while they sleep can be an easy way to reduce the effects of this ongoing problem and help people get a more restful sleep.
*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.