You may need a mouthguard, known as a nightguard, if you have a chronic teeth grinding habit. If you don’t address the physical/psychological reasons for your teeth grinding habit (i.e. stress), nor use a night guard, you may experience further complications that may put your teeth at risk of permanent damage.
That said, everyone grinds, clenches or gnashes their teeth at one time or another. Most times we don’t even know we do it because teeth grinding, or bruxism, is usually subconscious behaviour, and symptoms aren’t always noticeable at first. It’s not until a partner or carer notices, or one experiences advanced symptoms that you may start to figure out what you’ve been doing with your teeth at night. But when does grinding become a problem that puts your oral health at risk?
The common symptoms of bruxism that indicate you may need to wear a “night guard” mouthguard from your dentist, include:
- Dull headaches or ear pain – if you wake up with either of these symptoms, the reason could be teeth grinding at night.
- Sore toothaches – a dull toothache may indicate excess pressure on your teeth from grinding.
- Facial stiffness – this symptom may indicate that your facial muscles have tensed for a long period indicating extended teeth grinding.
- Medication – some medications, such as anti-depressants, cause teeth grinding while you sleep.
- Non-stop grinding – if you have temporary or chronic stress issues, your teeth may be grinding on them at night.
- Intense jaw clenching – this may cause your teeth to clench also.
- Chipped tooth – if you notice a chip on a tooth or wear on the cusps/edges of your teeth – that is not the result of “poor” food choices (e.g. ice cubes) – you may be grinding your teeth excessively.
- Sore, inflamed jaw joints in the morning – this may be a sign of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD) which can occur from teeth grinding.
If you suspect that you have any of the signs and symptoms listed above and may be grinding your teeth, the next step is to see your dentist for a proper diagnosis and potential treatment options.
Teeth grinding may arise from a range of physical and/or psychological issues that will need to be dealt with – especially for children who are experiencing stress, anger and/or anxiety issues. In the meantime, if you (or a family member) are experiencing bruxism, your dentist can help prevent any further oral health complications – such as attrition – by fitting you with a custom “nightguard” mouthguard that you can wear comfortably at night.