0118 934 9703

Do I need to wear a nightguard?

Our principal dentist Dr Oberah Qadeer answers some commonly asked questions about nightguards and when you may benefit from using one. Do you sometimes wake up in the morning with pain in your jaw, muscles of the face or by your ears? If the answer is yes you may be grinding or clenching your teeth whilst sleeping. We sometimes see this in patients who are dealing with stressful issues, have a sudden change in lifestyle, and commonly in younger patients around exam time. Grinding or clenching can affect these areas:
  • Teeth
  • Masseter muscles
  • Temporomandibular joints
  • Headaches and jaw pain

How Grinding or Clenching can affect your teeth

Teeth are affected by grinding/clenching as they can chip or fracture and over time they get worn down and can begin to cause pain. We are able to restore some tooth wear with composite bonding but in some cases where it is severe and has been left untreated it can pose a restorative problem. This happens because the teeth become shortened in height, which then leads to the jaw over-closing than before. This results in very little room to place restorations that will not break off. This is why it is important to see the dentist regularly so they can detect any tooth wear that may be happening.

How Grinding or Clenching can affect masseter muscles

The masseter muscles (cheeks) are affected by grinding and clenching and you can see this in people who have these habits. The muscles become enlarged and have a thickened appearance. This can affect the shape of your face by making it look wider. Botox can be injected into the muscles to have a relaxing effect on them, so despite them being over-stimulated, they are not constantly growing. The result is a slimmer contour to your face and a more attractive appearance.

Temporomandibular joints

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your mandible (lower jaw) to your skull. The TMJ is located on both sides of your head in front of your ears. It allows you to open and close your jaw for speaking and eating. The most common symptom of TMJ disorder is pain in the jaw and surrounding muscles due to teeth grinding, trauma and/or stress. Other symptoms of TMJ disorders are :
  • Pain in the face or neck
  • Stiffness in jaw muscles
  • Limited jaw movement
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Clicking/popping sound from one or both sides
  • Dental issues like tooth wear
  • Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
  • Vertigo
  • Headaches
  • Shift in jaw alignment, known as malocclusion
Treatments and therapies include a soft diet, painkillers (NSAIDs eg ibuprofen to reduce any inflammation around the jaw joint), exercises and physical therapy. It is important to see the dentist if you are grinding the teeth as a nightguard can be made for you to wear at night and muscle relaxants may be prescribed.

What is a nightguard? 

A nightguard is made by your dentist to help alleviate your symptoms from teeth grinding/clenching and to protect your teeth. An impression or digital 3D scan is taken of your teeth (usually lower but can be upper if you prefer) and this is sent to the lab. A bespoke nightguard is made out of vinyl. We instruct patients to wear this every night and when it becomes worn or develops cracks a replacement can be made for you.

The main aim of a nightguard is to separate your top and bottom teeth so they don’t damage each other from the pressure of grinding or clenching. Nightguards are extremely helpful for patients suffering with TMJ disorders or those with a history of grinding/clenching. You can brush the night guard with a toothbrush and a little toothpaste and rinse with cold water. There are also retainer cleaning tablets which can be used to make a cleaning solution. 

If you’re concerned about tooth grinding, clenching, or feel that you may benefit from using a nightguard, get in contact and book your appointment at Shine Dental today. 

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Site last updated: 19th April 2019.