If you deal with a lot of stress and wake up with a sore jaw or headache, you may have bruxism, a condition that means you clench or grind your teeth.
Bruxism affects 10 percent of adults, according to the American Sleep Association, and it generally is an unconscious habit, meaning you could be doing it throughout the night while you sleep. Fortunately, there is a simple solution: night guards.
“Night guards are an easy way to prevent the wear and damage that teeth-grinding causes over time,” according to Bennington Quality Dental Care. “Custom-made by your dentist from soft material to fit your teeth, a night guard is inserted over your top or bottom arch and prevents contact with the opposing teeth.”
Here are four ways you could benefit from a night guard.
Teeth grinding causes sore jaws, tooth pain and headaches, turning a problem you have while sleeping into a 24/7 nightmare. Those headaches are nothing to sneeze at, as 1 in 8 people have headaches so severe that they cannot function normally, according to the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain.
“Headaches are our number one pain problem in the United States,” the AACP says. “Approximately 40 percent of all ‘healthy’ individuals suffer from chronic headaches.”
Clenching your jaw also overworks muscles and causes spasms, which means you have to work hard to do what should be simple, such as bringing your teeth together to swallow. This causes more pain and turns into a distressing cycle.
Night guards help prevent these problems, so you wake up pain free.
Bruxism wears down your teeth, creates cracks and even loosens teeth until they fall out. To address those problems, you will need dental work, from bridges and crowns to implants and dentures. Dental work is better than not having teeth, but the costs add up quickly.
While a night guard is a small expense, it’s one that will pay for itself over and over, as you protect your teeth and avoid major dental work.
Protect your teeth while you deal with the root issue
Many factors cause bruxism — anything from stress and a hyperactive or aggressive personality to medicines you take or a mental health or medical disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic. A night guard protects your teeth while you explore the cause.
“The grinding of teeth has long been held as one physical manifestation of stress and anxiety,” according to a Journal of Research in Personality study. “For example, individuals who grind their teeth tend to report more symptoms of anxiety and depression than non-bruxers.”
Your dentist may recommend managing the stress that causes teeth grinding by incorporating meditation and yoga into your daily routine. You can also lower your alcohol and caffeine intake, particularly close to bedtime, and cut out unnecessary chewing, such as on pens or other objects.
Save your relationship
Your partner may be the one who alerted you to your teeth grinding, and it could be preventing that person from getting a full night of sleep. In fact, 1 in 3 people report their partner’s sleeping issues negatively affect their sleep quality, according to the Better Sleep Council.
“If you have a partner with sleep difficulties, it can impact you in one way or another,” according to Consumer Health Digest. “... Statistics from the National Sleep Foundation indicate that about 25 percent of American couples eventually move into sleeping in different rooms.”
A night guard is a less extreme solution that can help you enjoy a solid night’s rest together.
Visit the dentist
Don’t delay making an appointment with a dentist to fix any issues your bruxism has already caused as well as to be fitted for a night guard to prevent future problems.
Bennington Quality Dental Care has high quality, friendly service in a gentle and caring atmosphere. For details about the many services offered, visit benningtonqualitydentalcare.com. Request an appointment online or by calling 402-238-9922.