Why do you need a night guard?
Life is full of daily stressors. Stress, anger, sleep apnea, acid reflux, and a focusing habit are just some of the causes that can lead to dental trouble. These stressors cause you to clench and grind your teeth as you sleep at night. This condition is known as bruxism, and jaw pain and headaches can arise as a result. Studies show that around 70 percent of the population grinds their teeth to some degree, and roughly 25 percent grind to such an extent as to cause severe dental damage. Those most likely to experience bruxism include smokers, heavy alcohol or caffeine users, and people suffering from depression. An occlusal guard (also known as a nightguard or mouthguard) made by your dentist can help protect your teeth from various types of grinding-related damage.
What is TMJ?
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is a condition that affects the jaw joints and surrounding muscles. It is commonly associated with jaw soreness. The temporomandibular joint is a sliding hinge that connects your skull and jawbone. When dysfunction in this joint occurs, pain and discomfort arise. TMJ disorder symptoms include jaw pain, difficulty chewing, and clicking/locking of the joint. Worn down and broken teeth due to TMJ disorder can also lead to increased sensitivity and a loss of teeth and fillings. This is where a nightguard comes into play.
What is a nightguard?
A nightguard is similar to a retainer and is usually a hard plastic guard that covers the biting surfaces of your teeth. An impression is taken of your teeth, and then the night guard is custom-made to fit you perfectly. While you’re sleeping, you still clench and grind your teeth. However, wearing the nightguard protects your teeth from excessive wear and tear. This is done by preventing direct contact between your top and bottom teeth. Grinding the teeth is also problematic for patients with implants. Teeth clenching and grinding are the leading causes of implant failure, such as fracture of the implant, loosening of the screw, fracture of the screw, and fracture of the porcelain. In short, a nightguard helps prevent the adverse effects caused by TMJ disorder.
What if I grind my teeth and don’t wear a nightguard?
If left untreated, bruxism (teeth grinding) can have serious consequences. These consequences include bone loss, gum recession, damage to the enamel, and flattened/shortened teeth. Grinding wears away the enamel, exposing the inner layers of the tooth. Once exposed, the tooth wears away at an even more accelerated pace. These vulnerable teeth are also at a higher risk for cavities, decay, and tooth loss.
On top of dental health concerns, grinding causes cosmetic issues. The chronic clenching of the jaw (due to TMJ disorder) causes masseters and temporalis musculature growth. This can leave the face with a more masculine and square appearance. If you find yourself grinding your teeth at night, a nightguard can help save your teeth in the long run.
Does insurance cover the cost of a nightguard?
Many insurance policies cover the fabrication of a nightguard, especially if photo documentation proves the need. If you believe you are suffering from bruxism, discussing your concerns with your dentist is important. Doing so before any serious issues arise will lower the likelihood of more complex and costly dental treatments. A nightguard is basically like insurance for your teeth.
In conclusion, nightguards are a worthwhile investment. They can help protect your teeth and improve your sleep, helping you to continue on living a long, happy, and healthy life.