The Nightly Grind – Why You May Need a Bite Guard

Early this year, we published a blog about teeth grinding and in this blog, we will discuss this topic further since it is so common. Many people clench or grind their teeth to the point of destructiveness. Most people are completely unaware that they do it, because often they do it while they sleep. Partially because patients don’t know they grind their teeth and also because the thought of wearing a night guard is pretty unappealing, we often get asked, “Do I really need a night guard?” Ask yourself if you have any of these symptoms, especially first thing in the morning:

  • Dull headache, migraine
  • Earache
  • Sore jaw
  • Tooth sensitivity to cold, heat or brushing
  • Sores or wounds on the inside of the cheeks
  • Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis)
  • Jaw pain
  • Neck or shoulder pain
  • Dizziness

If so, you may be ‘bruxing’. Bruxism (pronounced BRUK-sizm) is the medical term for forceful clenching and/or grinding of your teeth. It is considered a major cause of tooth problems.
The action of grinding- where your upper and lower teeth move back and forth with great force against each other- causes your teeth to flatten. Allowed to persist, grinding causes temperature sensitivity, pain because the wear gets down to the nerve, cracks in the teeth, receding gums and eventually lost teeth. To fix these, patients will need crowns, bridges, veneers, implants, extractions, & root canals. Unfortunately, there really is no “cure” for bruxism and research has shown the most effective treatment to date to be night guards.

You will probably ask us why you should not get a night guard at your local pharmacy. Night guards that you can buy at the drug store are not custom fitted, they are either stock night guard or boil & bites. They are usually large, unattractive, poorly fitting and may even come out during the grinding. Dr. Still will take into account your specific situation. Depending on what your grinding pattern is, you may only need a smaller night guard that fits over just your six front teeth or you may need more full coverage. We will take impressions of your teeth so that our dental lab can make a night guard that is the exact match to your teeth.

So if you have noticed wear and tear on your teeth, are experiencing any symptoms that you suspect might be from grinding your teeth…or if your spouse has to wear earplugs at night because of the noise…don’t be surprised if Dr. Still tells you that you should be wearing a night guard. It may not be sexy, but it’s much sexier than missing teeth and painful jaws.