Posted by Dr. Julie Boudreault On 12-04-2022
Gone are the days when mouthguards belonged solely in the sports world. Mouthguards are actually extremely beneficial for many ordinary people. They’re not just for athletes! If you clench or grind your teeth while sleeping, then you’re the perfect candidate for a mouthguard. This is because the act of clenching and grinding does significant damage to your teeth.
Night-time clenching or grinding of the teeth is called “sleep bruxism.” This condition has destructive consequences for your oral health. If left untreated, it can cause chipped and cracked teeth, jaw disorders, intense headaches, and severe facial pain.
Fortunately, mouthguards are a tried-and-true solution. They reduce the damage brought on by sleep bruxism and are the best way to protect your smile from tooth grinding. However, not all mouthguards are created equal.
Store-bought versions rarely fit correctly and, therefore, aren’t as effective or comfortable to wear. The best option is a custom fit mouthguard. Milton residents can see Dr. Boudreault at Milltown Dental for their own custom mouthguard.
However, what if you’re not sure if you need a mouthguard? While your dentist is the best judge, there are symptoms you can watch for at home. Here are 7 strong indicators that you might be suffering from night-time clenching and would benefit from a mouthguard.
1. You chronically grind your teeth
If you already know that you have a problem with teeth grinding, then a mouthguard is a must. Do you ever catch yourself clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth during the day? Or, has a family member heard your sleep bruxism at night? While it’s hard to know exactly what your mouth is doing as you sleep, these are two strong indicators that you’re unconsciously causing damage to your teeth.
2. Your jaw and face are sore in the morning
Teeth grinding puts additional stress on the muscles in your jaw, neck, and face. These muscles are essentially getting an extra workout all night, every night. As a result, you’re likely to feel soreness and jaw pain in the morning. Sometimes, this gets so bad that you may get an occasional swollen jaw that seems to come out of nowhere. You may also encounter stiffness and pain as you eat.
3. You wake up with a headache
Waking up to a splitting headache is another sign that you’re experiencing nightly clenching. In fact, headaches are one of the most common symptoms for milder cases. These headaches are a result of the pressure that builds up in the jaw as your teeth rub together.
It’s common for sleep bruxism headaches to start in the temples. If untreated, these will intensify into migraines. Alternatively, you may also experience toothaches, earaches, and even shoulder pain.
4. Your teeth are chipped
A chipped tooth signals a serious problem. If you notice any chipping on your teeth, you must immediately contact your dentist. Nightly clenching puts a lot of strain and pressure on your teeth, which eventually results in tooth damage. Even otherwise healthy teeth can only endure so much. Therefore, it’s important to watch for any of the following: chipped teeth, flat top molars, shorter front teeth, cracked teeth, or teeth that suddenly become more sensitive.
5. Your achy jaw wakes you up at night
Nightly clenching can even interrupt your sleep. The pain from grinding, facial soreness, and jaw ache is enough to wake even a deep sleeper (and the sound of your clenching might wake your partner!). A good night’s rest is essential for overall health, so anything negatively impacting your sleep should be tended to quickly. Consequently, while sleep disruption can be caused by night-time clenching, it affects far more than just your oral health.
6. You have TMJ Disorder
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. Clenching and grinding your teeth every night leads to inflammation of your jaw and the surrounding muscles. In turn, this can lead to Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD).
Those with TMJD experience pain in the jaw joints and a clicking or popping in their ears. Other symptoms include migraines, ear pain, and dizziness. If untreated, TMJD can turn into a serious condition with decreased jaw function.
7. You take antidepressants
Some antidepressants come with the side-effect of night-time teeth grinding. If you take antidepressants, it’s a good idea to have a chat with your doctor to see if a mouthguard is right for you.
Not everyone who takes antidepressants will develop nightly clenching. However, it is something to look out for. This is especially true if you have just started taking antidepressants and are unsure of how your body will react.
Custom Fit Mouthguards Protect Your Teeth
It’s important to care for our teeth just as diligently as other aspects of our health. When it comes to oral health, preventative measures are always preferable.
Untreated conditions can easily worsen, sometimes leading to irreversible damage. For this reason, it’s crucial to contact your dentist as soon as you notice any irregularities with your teeth.
Chipped or cracked teeth, jaw pain, muscle soreness, and disrupted sleep are all signs that something is wrong. These symptoms point to sleep bruxism, or night-time clenching and grinding of the teeth. It can cause severe damage to your teeth, intense facial pain, jaw discomfort, and headaches.
If you suffer from sleep bruxism, dentists recommend using a mouthguard to protect your teeth. Mouthguards dramatically reduce the damage that grinding can cause. A custom fit mouthguard is made specifically for you, thus guaranteeing a perfect fit. This means it will protect your teeth effectively, saving your smile for years to come.
To protect your smile, contact Milltown Dental in Milton for a custom fit mouthguard!