There are few things as frustrating as waking up in the morning, and being just as exhausted as you were when you went to bed. We all have the occasional sleepless night when we toss and turn and can’t seem to turn our mind off long enough to relax and drift off to sleep. Maybe you’re worried about a friend or family member going through a difficult time, or you’re thinking about that major test or work presentation you need to do the next day.
However, if sleepless nights become the norm and not the exception, and you start to notice other symptoms like jaw pain, headaches, or earaches, there’s a good chance something else is going on. You may be unknowingly grinding or clenching your teeth. Great. Now what?
Don’t panic, you are not alone, says our own Dr. Pendleton. About 30 million to 40 million children and adults in the United States suffer from teeth grinding or clenching. Although the condition may be painful and keep you from experiencing restorative sleep, help is available. Think night guards.
What is a night guard?
A night guard, sometimes called a mouth guard or bite splint, is a removable dental appliance, which is designed to create a barrier between your upper and lower arch. The way it works is when you try to clench or grind your teeth, the night guard literally gets in the way and prevents your teeth from touching while it also cushions the muscles in the jaw. The cushioning function helps in two important ways — it protects the enamel of your teeth and also prevents jaw pain by preventing the contact between teeth.
Night guards can be made from soft or hard acrylic. While you can purchase over the counter one-size-fits all night guards, here at Pendleton Orthodontics, Dr. Pendleton creates custom-made night guards for superior comfort and effectiveness. After doing a thorough examination, Dr. Pendleton takes a digital scan to map out your mouth. The data from the scan are used to fabricate your tailor-made night guard. The best part is that because the night guard is custom made just for you, it won’t be uncomfortable or irritate your gums.
Grinding your teeth
While one of the primary reasons to consider getting a night guard is to tackle teeth grinding or clenching, night guards won’t actually prevent the action from happening, but instead will prevent painful, damaging effects to your teeth and jaw. If you find that you also grind or clench your teeth during the day, Dr. Pendleton works with you to develop mitigation strategies, depending on what’s triggering the issue. For some patients, things like limiting coffee consumption or stress management techniques can stave off teeth grinding and clenching.
Preventing worn down or damaged teeth
As if preventing facial and jaw pain wasn’t enough, the effects of teeth grinding go well beyond that. Fortunately, by using a night guard you can prevent the ultimate progression of damage to your teeth. Although on the surface teeth grinding or clenching may sound like a minor issue, over time chronic teeth grinding may lead to chipped, cracked or worn down teeth as well as tooth loss and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome.
If you are waking up with facial or jaw pain, and wonder whether a night guard can help, book a consultation at Pendleton Orthodontics in Leander, Texas, right away. We’ll figure out what’s going on so you can get back to feeling more like yourself again. Request an appointment online, or call us today at 512-355-7727.