Do Mouth Guards Really Help Bruxism and More FAQs

Straight, healthy teeth allow us to chew correctly, talk properly and express ourselves. Naturally, you want to keep your smile protected from injury, but that’s hard to do if you have braces, play contact sports, or suffer from bruxism. The good news is that dental technology is constantly improving to provide solutions and relief for these and many other dental issues, and one of those solutions is the mouth guard.

1. What is a mouthguard?

Mouthguards cover the teeth and gums to protect them from injury. Different kinds of mouthguards are made for different situations (we’ll take a look at a few in a moment).

2. Who needs to wear a mouthguard?

Anyone who needs help protecting their teeth can benefit from wearing a mouthguard. Someone who plays contact sports or engages in activities that increase their risk of falling should wear mouth guards to protect not only their teeth and gums but also their tongue and cheeks. People who suffer from bruxism also benefit from mouth guards because they help force the jaw to relax.

3. What is bruxism?

Bruxism is a condition that causes people to grind or clench their teeth. Severe instances can cause extensive wear, chronic tooth pain, tension headaches, and jaw clicking. Mild bruxism may go away on its own without treatment, but moderate and severe cases require attention.

4. What are the symptoms of bruxism?

Whether you are the patient or the parent of a child who may be suffering from bruxism, there are several symptoms to watch for. Fractured or loose teeth, cratered tooth enamel, tooth sensitivity,  jaw discomfort, and chronic headaches are all warning signs. Any and all symptoms should be reported to your dentist for further evaluation.

5. What are the causes of bruxism?

It is not easy to identify exactly what causes bruxism, but medical professionals believe that certain factors contribute to it. People who experience sleep bruxism are thought to be reacting to sensory stimuli. Awake bruxism may be a coping mechanism in response to stress, anxiety, or anger. It may also occur during periods of intense concentration.

6. What are the treatment options for bruxism?

People who grind their teeth minimally generally do not require treatment. When the grinding or clenching is severe enough to cause damage or pain, however, treatment is a necessity. In most cases, a dental splint or mouth guard will prevent the upper and lower teeth from direct contact and protect them from damage.

In serious cases, more intervention is needed. Patients may need dental work to correct damage, alleviate stress, or relax the muscles. Botox injections may help people who have not responded well to other treatments.

Self-treatment can also be effective. This involves taking steps to reduce stress, limiting caffeinated and alcoholic beverages in the evenings, and getting help for sleeping disorders. Giving your dentist the opportunity to monitor your condition through regular checkups is also important.

7. What should I look for in a mouth guard for bruxism?

Your dental health provider is the best person to consult about a bruxism mouthguard. Size and fit are the primary considerations, and a ready-made dental guard is unlikely to fit properly. To ensure a snug fit and proper alignment, your dentist makes a custom guard from a mold of your teeth.

A mouth guard for bruxism should be made of only high-quality, heat-cured, durable plastic or acrylic material. Some patients may enjoy a soft guard, while others may need a tougher solution. The more severe the bruxism, the more durable the guard needs to be.

8. Can generic sports guards work for bruxism?

Sports guards are not made for the long-term use associated with bruxism. A sports guard is only meant to be worn for a few hours during a sporting activity and is designed to cover the teeth and gums. A sports guard could keep you from biting your tongue or cheek, but it cannot tolerate being manipulated by constant chewing and grinding motions.

Wearing a sports guard for bruxism could cause irritation and injury to the gums. A mouth guard specifically for bruxism, however, serves an entirely different purpose and is made to protect only the teeth. It only covers the biting surfaces so as not to rub against the gum tissue when the patient grinds or clenches.

Are you in need of a customized mouthguard?

The best mouthguards are those that are custom-made to address the patient’s specific needs. If you suffer from bruxism, let a dental health professional help you find the solution that’s right for you. Schedule your evaluation with Dr. Miedema at Tory Hill Dental today!