Most people don't realize that teeth grinding or bruxism is prevalent. It's estimated to affect up to 45% of the population at some point in their lives and about 12% on an ongoing basis. But many people who grind their teeth are either unaware they're doing it, or they think it's just part of aging and something they can never break. However, a mouthguard is an excellent solution we provide at Karl Hoffman Dentistry to help people stop grinding their teeth when they are asleep. Here is everything you need to know about how a mouthguard works and why it's the best solution.
Why do people grind their teeth?
When we sleep, our body relaxes, which sometimes causes some of our muscles to tighten up more than others without knowing it. The most common ones for this area are in the jaw and face area and the neck and shoulders. When these muscles tighten up, they can put pressure on the teeth and cause them to grind together and can cause TMJ. This is usually a subconscious reaction that people have, and it's usually not something they do intentionally.
How a mouthguard works
A good mouthguard is custom-made for each individual, and it's a plastic mouthguard that you wear while you sleep. It fits over your top teeth and helps to prevent them from grinding together. The great thing about them is that they are very comfortable to wear and most people don't even know they're wearing them.
What are the symptoms of teeth grinding?
The most common symptoms of teeth grinding are soreness or pain in the jaw, headaches, and a clicking or popping noise when you open your mouth. If you're experiencing any of these symptoms regularly, it's best to visit your dentist and see if you might be grinding your teeth at night. Additional symptoms can be misaligned or crooked teeth, sensitive teeth that are prone to cavities and gum disease, worn down enamel on your teeth, earaches in the middle of the night, neck pain, and stiffness.
Treatment options for teeth grinding
The first step is to identify the underlying cause. Sometimes, no matter how many treatments you try on your own, it can be complicated for you to stop grinding your teeth at night without proper identification. The most common treatment options are wearing a mouthguard or splint during sleep to reposition the lower jaw slightly forward and prevent clenching or ground down teeth from extreme forces of nighttime teeth grinding. If this doesn't work, other types of treatment may help, including medications used in conjunction with therapy sessions and Botox injections into certain muscles related to bruxism (grinding) issues. However, these tend only to last around three months before they need another injection, so if medication isn't working, Botox therapy is usually not the best solution.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of teeth grinding, we would recommend visiting us at Karl Hoffman Dentistry for a consultation. We can help identify if you are grinding your teeth at night and provide you with a custom-made mouthguard to help stop the problem. Contact us today on 360-539-3429!