It’s not uncommon to find yourself waking up in the morning with a sore jaw, a headache, and/or painful sensations in your teeth. It’s important to remember, however, these symptoms may be signs of jaw clenching or teeth grinding (also known as bruxism) during sleep. The resulting discomfort and symptoms may vary in severity from quite painful to not all that bad, but over the long term jaw clenching and teeth grinding can result in serious damage or wear and tear on your teeth. The good news is that solutions exist, and some of them are quite easy to implement!
The most common solution a dentist will suggest for pain from jaw clenching is a nightguard. As the name suggests, a nightguard is a type of mouthguard worn while sleeping to protect and cushion the teeth and jaw from grinding or clenching. Nightguards come in several varieties, the most common being:
- Stock mouth protectors. These are readily available in most sporting goods stores and are generally inexpensive. Typically made of a heavy rubber or plastic material, they are held between the teeth to cushion them from damage during athletic activities. The downside is they tend to be bulky, occasionally uncomfortable and can make breathing difficult if worn overnight.
- “Boil and BIte” mouth protectors. These are also available in most sporting goods stores, as they’re intended for the same athletic use stock mouth protectors are. Made from a thermoplastic material, they offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors because they’re shaped to the user by heating the plastic and then holding it between the teeth so it takes the shape of the wearer’s mouth. While better than stock mouth protectors, they may offer many of the same downsides.
- Custom night protectors. The most comfortable of all options for many patients, custom night protectors are designed and made to fit your particular needs and your individual mouth. Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth and use it to mold a mouthguard just for you. Due to the custom fitting and materials involved, this is a more expensive option but tends to be far more comfortable for overnight wear.
Nightguards address a number of problems that may occur at any age. They’re generally cheaper and easier than fixing damage after it’s occurred and can supplement other more lasting treatments for jaw clenching or teeth grinding. If you’re experiencing jaw pain, soreness, tooth pain, or headaches when you wake up in the morning, a custom night protector may be part of the answer. Talk to your dentist and they’ll help you decide if one is right for you.
At BlueWave Dentistry, we design and make most of our own night guards in our office. It’s part of our commitment to providing the highest quality of care tailored to the individual needs of each patient. Whether you’re concerned about jaw clenching, tooth grinding, or just need a routine examination, get in touch today and we’ll schedule an appointment as soon as possible.