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What Is Sleep Bruxism and How Can a Night Guard Help?

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

Sleep bruxism sounds like a medical term that requires several medical professionals collaborating to come up with a treatment plan, but it just means that the patient grinds and/or clenches their teeth at night. That might not sound too bad, but nighttime clenching can cause numerous adverse health effects, including frequent morning headaches, jaw discomfort, insomnia, and unexplained dental or orthodontic damage. The patient's spouse may also hear them grinding at night, preventing them from getting any sleep.

Scientists aren't sure what causes sleep bruxism, but researchers have discovered several contributing factors. Stress, anxiety, and certain sleep disorders are often involved, as are abnormal bites caused by missing or crooked teeth. Research also suggests that alcohol and tobacco use are associated with nighttime grinding.

There is no cure for sleep bruxism, but the symptoms can be mitigated or even prevented by wearing a nightguard. A night guard acts as a cushion that prevents your upper and lower jaws from clenching, working similarly to mouthguards in athletic settings. Unfortunately, many nightguards on the market are bulky and uncomfortable, so people avoid putting them in before they go to bed. Naturally, they don't do anything if they're sitting on your nightstand.

One of the best tests is to see if you are comfortable talking and breathing while wearing your nightguard. If you are, you have a good fit and are well on your way to mitigating the impacts of sleep bruxism on your life. If you're not, you have to keep trying products until you find a better fit.

You could ask your dentist to make you a night guard custom-fit to your mouth. Products made with cheap materials may be ground straight through, failing in their mission to protect your mouth. A custom-fit night guard by your dentist will fit to the unique contours of your mouth.

Dental insurance may cover at least some of the cost of your night guard, especially if your smile has been visibly damaged. If you wear braces or have other orthodontic equipment, you should look for special guards that won't damage them. Some guards can even be remolded after every orthodontic adjustment, providing added flexibility.

Cleaning your night guard is also of the utmost importance as bacteria, and other pathogens can get into your guard and fester in your mouth every night. Yuck! Thankfully, many products on the market today include easy cleaning directions to ensure that your mouth doesn't turn into a microbe hotel.

You might not want to pick out a night guard, but doing so today could give you a substantially better quality of life tomorrow. Hopefully, the information above provided some insight into what sleep bruxism is and how a night guard could help!


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