Almost everyone grinds their teeth at one time or another, but for most, the activity is not severe enough to cause health problems. There are some, however, for whom teeth grinding, clinically called bruxism, can lead to worn and cracked teeth, jaw and facial pain, earaches and severe morning headaches.
Though teeth grinding is a hard habit to break, there are ways to treat it. The most common of these is to use a mouth guard at night for teeth grinding. This will stop your jaws from clenching; thus, preventing further dental damage.
Teeth grinding refers to the habit of either clenching your teeth tightly or continuously rubbing them against each other. While some grinding does happen during the day, the most difficult to control is the clenching and grinding that can happen while you sleep.
If you suffer from bruxism, you may not even be aware of it. The first person to notice is usually your spouse, who is awakened or disturbed by the grinding noises. If your spouse is a heavy sleeper, the first person to notice may be your dentist, who finds the negative effects of bruxism through a dental examination and recommends the use of a mouth guard.
Children may also grind their teeth at some point in their development, particularly those under the age of five. Most children who grind their teeth outgrow it without intervention, with no harm to their teeth, but your dentist may recommend treatment depending on the severity of the bruxism.
Mouth guards, also called night guards, are retainer-like pieces of plastic that cover either the top or bottom set of teeth. The guard cushions your teeth from the force of clenching and prevents the molars from grinding together. This not only safeguards your teeth, but allows your loved ones to sleep soundly.
Your dentist can have a night guard custom-made from a mold of your mouth, or you can purchase a bulkier boil-and-bite model from a pharmacy. Whether you choose a custom or off-the-shelf mouth guard, it is important that you figure out how to keep your teeth safe while ensuring you and your spouse get a good night’s sleep.