Protecting your Teeth
Nightguards (or mouth splints) are custom-fitted plastic appliances that are worn over the teeth to protect them from damage due to clenching or grinding (a condition known as Bruxism.)
Bruxism is commonly associated with stress, but can be related to sleep disorders, jaw joint disorders (TMJ/TMD), or, a broken-down bite due to damaged or missing teeth. Because it usually occurs during sleep, it can go unnoticed for years.
Common symptoms of bruxism include headaches, tired or sore facial muscles and cracked or sensitive teeth.
- Extensive grinding can cause severe wear of tooth enamel, making the teeth appear shorter and flattened.
- Some patients clench or grind their teeth so hard that it also causes stress fractures in tooth enamel.
- Teeth grinding is often loud enough to wake a sleep partner.
- Left untreated, bruxism can eventually result in serious damage to the teeth that may require extensive restorative procedures to repair.
A nightguard (or biteguard) functions as a "shock absorber" during sleep to buffer the forces of biting and clenching. In addition to nightguard therapy, addressing any underlying causes such as sleep apnea, TMJ dysfunction or poor bite is also very important. And, finding ways to relieve stress is always a good idea for your overall health.
As part of your complete dental examination, Dr. Zanthos will evaluate both jaw joints and each tooth surface to observe for signs of distress and offer recommendations as needed to keep to your smile healthy and pain-free.