Posted on 12/01/2020 · Posted in Health Information from Affiliated Dentists, Information

Do I Need a Night Guard?

  • Night Grinding
  • Taking a Load Off
  • Occlusal Guard
  • Bonus: Better Sleep!

With the holidays about to descend upon Madison, no one needs to be waking up with a throbbing headache, toothache, or jaw ache. With deadlines to meet, packages to wrap, and cards to send, we need to be at our best to keep up with our holiday to-do lists. If you suspect that you might be experiencing symptoms related to nighttime tooth grinding, here’s how a night guard can keep you smiling through the season even when the pressure is on.

Night Grinding

Often, people who clench or grind their teeth don’t realize that they’re doing it. Signs that you might be grinding your teeth at night include waking up with an aching jaw, tooth, head, or facial muscles. You may also be experiencing tender jaw joints or jaws that make a clicking or popping sound when they’re opened.

You are also more likely to grind your teeth at night if you catch yourself clenching your teeth during the day as a response to stress.

Other risk factors for night grinding include: tobacco, caffeine, or recreational drug use; emotional stress or anxiety disorders; age–young children are more likely than adults to grind teeth; certain psychiatric medications; family members who grind their teeth; and other disorders like Parkinson’s and ADHD.

Taking a Load Off

During the day, eating typically puts the most pressure on our teeth. Normal pressure put on our teeth in order to chew food usually is less than forty pounds per square inch. This pressure is only applied during a relatively short amount of time during the day.

However, when people clench their teeth at night, the pressure per square inch can exceed five hundred pounds!

Under these circumstances, it’s easy to understand why people who grind their teeth at night suffer from chipped, cracked, worn down teeth, teeth that are sensitive to temperature, and loose teeth. To remedy the problem, your dentist might recommend that you get a night guard.

Occlusal Guard

A night guard, also known as an occlusal guard, is a traditional mouthguard made of thin plastic that fits snugly over your teeth. Night guards are available in stores as a “boil and bite” model or they can be custom-made by your dentist. The custom night guard, though initially more expensive, is a higher quality option that can last as long as ten years with proper maintenance.

Another style of night guard is the NTI, or Nociception Trigeminal Inhibitor. This guard fits only over the front top or bottom teeth to prevent clenching or grinding.

Night guards protect teeth by absorbing and dispersing the force of nighttime clenching. They also create a barrier between the teeth. Both functions help protect your teeth’s enamel. In some cases, night guards can also help deter the jaws from clenching so hard.

Bonus: Better Sleep!

Here’s an amazing bonus from night guards: when they prevent your jaws from clenching, mouth guards can help you get better sleep! Jaw clenching is itself a sleep disorder. If your mouthguard prevents this, you can enjoy sounder sleep with healthier teeth.

Affiliated Dentists in Madison, Wisconsin

If you think that you might be a good candidate for a night guard, schedule an appointment with us today. We will take an impression of your teeth, and you should have a new mouth guard a day to a week later depending on the style.

Affiliated Dentists offers general dentistry and headache therapy TMJ in Madison, Wisconsin.




Do I Need a Night Guard? brought to you by Dr. Mark Gustavson