Teeth grinding (bruxism) and jaw clenching whilst sleeping can cause chips and cracks to the teeth, as well as wearing them down.
You may not even be aware that you are doing either of these, or of the damage. Your dentist will spot any issues during your routine check and may recommend a nightguard. These are also known as mouthguards, occlusal guards or splints, dental guards or bite splints. It’s worth thinking about protecting your teeth to avoid the cost of more dental treatment later.
Night guards are popular because they provide a cushion to stop the friction between the bottom and top teeth. Grinding and clenching can both cause headaches and inflame the gums, as well as any damage to teeth.
Signs that you are clenching or grinding include waking up with a headache, feeling a strain in your jaw, or in your facial muscles, discomfort when chewing, feeling that your teeth are moving.
Types of Night Guards
Mouthguards can be bought over the counter. They are not as effective as those provided by your dentist, and they usually need to be softened in hot water before being placed in your mouth, so you can bite down to create an impression of your teeth. Over the counter guards are often thick and bulky and force the jaw into an unnatural position. This results in patients not using them or not using them successfully.
Your dentist will create a bespoke guard. These tend to be of a better quality than over the counter versions. An impression is taken of your teeth and a dental laboratory creates the custom-made guard just for you. A check for good fit is carried out by your dentist, who might make any necessary adjustments. Patients who have tried both versions of guards have used the bespoke version successfully.