Most people tend to grind or clench their teeth together. This habit is known as bruxism. What most people do not know is that if severe enough and left untreated, it can lead to both tooth problems as well as temporal mandibular joint disorders (TMD). Most patients do not think they grind or clench their teeth. Some people clench their teeth and never feel symptoms. However, there are many signs we look for when diagnosing bruxism in our patients.
Signs of bruxism in the mouth include worn down teeth, gum recession and missing enamel by the gumline/root area (known as abfraction). Some symptoms of TMD include headaches/migraines, earaches, jaw pain, sensitive and sore teeth. Teeth can also become very sensitive to cold/hot temperatures and sweets.
The specific cause of bruxism is not completely agreed upon, but most feel that stress is a major contributor. The most conservative treatment for bruxism is prevention. Our goal is to prevent your bruxism from getting worse or to the point where more aggressive therapy is required. Prevention entails wearing an oral appliance that prevents your teeth from coming together completely and keeps your TMJ in a more relaxed position. There are different types of nightguards that we make for our patients.
NTI nightguards are an FDA cleared dental method for migraine prevention. They are custom made in the office and can be made in one visit. They usually cover the front two upper teeth and allow your lower jaw to slide freely along the built-in ramp. There are some contraindications to wearing an NTI nightguard, so a thorough exam is needed prior to fabrication.
For more information visit: http://nti-tss.com/
The most common nightguards that we make are full occlusal nightguards. They are custom made and shaped like a horseshoe to cover the biting surface of either your upper or lower teeth. The material is hard, but not as hard as your teeth, so you will not be able to wear down your teeth anymore. They fit precisely and will not come loose while you are sleeping. They are adjusted so that when you bite, all back teeth hit evenly along both sides, helping to prevent further jaw problems.
A question we often receive is “Can I just use an over the counter or store-bought nightguard?” Our office does NOT recommend the use of over the counter nightguards. They are usually soft in nature, and require “boil and bite” to get them to fit your mouth. The problem with soft the material is that it actually encourages you to grind your teeth more and makes your bruxism worse over time. Also, because they are not custom made, they have the potential of coming loose while sleeping and can become a choking hazard.