Many people find that they wake up in the mornings with a sore or aching jaw. This is often caused by a condition called bruxism, where one grinds or clenches their teeth. Some estimate that 10-15% of people suffer from this condition.
While an aching jaw may sound like a minor issue, it can also cause premature dental wear and other jaw-related problems. Fortunately, the treatment for bruxism is relatively simple using a device called a nightguard. You should visit with your dentist and see if a nightguard is an option for you.
Nightguards are simple medical tools that help protect your teeth while you sleep at night. There are several different types of nightguards that are available and it is essential to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each type so that you can make the best decision in order to treat bruxism and maintain your dental health.
The simplest and most inexpensive nightguard is made of plastic or other soft material that is designed to cover your upper teeth. They come in a few different sizes, and you simply place it in your mouth at night. This nightguard does not offer any customization which means that they often result in a poor fit that can be uncomfortable and difficult for patients to tolerate at night. They can also interfere with your ability to speak and breathe while you sleep.
Another type of nightguard that is also readily available is a boil and bite style. This nightguard is made from a soft thermoplastic material that is designed to be placed in hot water and then bit onto by the patient. As they bite down, they press the mouthguard tightly against their teeth. As the plastic cools, it takes on the shape of the teeth and gums. While this offers a better fit than a standard nightguard, they can still be bulky and affect speech or breathing patterns.
The final type of nightguard is a custom nightguard. A custom nightguard is created specifically for each patient. A mold of the teeth is taken and a laboratory prepares the nightguard for you. These nightguards are thinner and often the best fit for your mouth. They should not affect your ability to breathe and have the least impact on your speech.
If you think a custom nightguard might be your best option, schedule an appointment with your dentist today.
One important distinction to make is that between a mouthguard and a nightguard is the overall coverage. Mouthguards that are used for athletic applications are designed to protect the entire tooth and the junction of the tooth with the jawline. This means that the coverage of a mouthguard also includes the gumline.
Additionally, mouthguards are intended to be used for shorter periods of time while we are active and awake. The additional coverage that a mouthguard provides is great for athletics, but when you sleep in a mouthguard, it can easily cause irritation to the gums. It also allows for the incubation of bacteria on the gum lines for the entire time you sleep.