I Grind My Teeth, Can My Dentist Help?

Approximately 25 percent of people grind their teeth at night. The condition, known as bruxism, can cause tired jaw muscles, increased tooth sensitivity, facial pain, jaw tightness, ear pain and teeth that are flattened, worn down, chipped or fractured. Luckily, a dentist can offer relief to people who grind their teeth using a variety of methods and procedures.

A custom mouthguard can help reduce the effects of teeth grinding. Typically made of plastic, the mouthguard can help the upper and lower jaw move more easily, reduce muscle strain and protect the teeth from abrasion. Patients typically wear the device every night while sleeping, and although a mouthguard cannot cure bruxism, it can significantly reduce the discomfort and deterioration associated with persistant teeth grinding.

Store-bought mouthguards are often poorly made, bulky, thick and uncomfortable. A custom-fitted mouthguard made from light plastic by a dentist is far more comfortable and form-fitting. The individually-designed mouthguard will also limit irritation to the palate and gums, making it easy and comfortable to wear night after night.

Patients who subconsciously clench their teeth may benefit from using a nociceptive trigeminal inhibitor (NTI-tss) dental guard. This type of guard is fitted to the front teeth, where it prevents the overlap of the lower and upper teeth during sleep. The device reduces clinching force by translating biting from attempts to normally close the jaw into a forward twisting motion of the lower front teeth. The brain responds to the altered movement by reducing the clenching force, which can lead to less teeth grinding at night.

Most patients adjust to wearing a mouthguard or NTI-tss guard quickly and see improvements in their symptoms soon after beginning treatment. By using either of these devices, patients with bruxism can finally wake up feeling well-rested instead of with jaw pain, discomfort and deteriorating teeth.

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