Many of us have heard about night mouthguards but still, aren't sure what they're used for or if they'd benefit us in some way. At Riverstone Family Dentistry we believe that education is empowering. With this in mind, we'd like you to stop and consider how you might benefit from wearing a mouthguard at night - often referred to as a dental mouthguard, occlusal guard, or a bite guard. It's important to realize that despite this being a common issue, most people aren't even aware they're doing it.
What a Mouthguard Is
A night mouthguard is an oral appliance that your dentist will use as a preventive measure to help stop you from grinding your teeth while you're asleep at night. This is important because grinding your teeth not only places undue, unnatural force on your jaw, but it also wears down your teeth's enamel.
With a night mouthguard, there are typically two layers to a mouthguard. The first is a soft top layer that will cushion your teeth and ease any discomfort. The second is a more rigid bottom layer that will effectively prevent you from grinding your teeth. These two layers will prevent you from grinding and harming your teeth by absorbing the force and dispersing it elsewhere. In doing so, you'll stop wearing down your teeth's enamel and relieve the tension your jaw muscles feel when they clench together so hard. This means that once you're fitted with a mouthguard that works effectively, you'll be prevented from further harming your teeth.
Who Needs a Mouthguard
Anyone who's diagnosed with bruxism (a.k.a. teeth grinding) will have a night mouthguard prescribed to them by us. This is one of the many things we'll be able to tell you about your oral health when you schedule an exam with our office - something you should do every six months or twice a year. At this time, we'll look for things like flat, fractured, loose, or chipped teeth.
Signs and symptoms that you can watch for between visits include facial pain, headaches, earaches, and pain or stiffness in your jaw. Once you have a night mouthguard, all these symptoms should stop because now there's a barrier between your teeth, preventing your jaw muscles from clenching together so hard even though you'll continue this habit. Essentially, all you're doing is giving your jaw some rest while you sleep, but this is important to do.
Lifespan of Mouthguards
Usually, you'll only be given a night mouthguard for your upper teeth because this will fit more comfortably. However, there are mouthguards available for your lower teeth too. Regardless of where the mouthguard is worn, its lifespan will depend on how severely you grind your teeth. Typically, they will last anywhere from 5-10 years though.
Understanding all the benefits of wearing a mouthguard at night may entice you to want to consider this subject even further. If this is true for you, make sure to contact Riverstone Family Dentistry at (360) 326-1443, so you can set up an appointment to do so today.