If you’ve ever woken with a jaw that felt sore or tired, noticed severe wear to the surfaces of teeth, or had a bed partner or roommate tell you they heard your teeth grinding, clacking, or clenching at night, you may be experiencing bruxism. This habitual teeth grinding and clenching habit has many causes, but as Dr. Richard Duarte outlines in this McCarl Dental Group video, there is one surefire treatment from your dentist in Greenbelt, MD – custom crafted nightguards.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is the name given to the oral health condition that occurs when people unconsciously grind or clench their teeth. This typically occurs during sleep, but many patients with severe bruxism find themselves grinding or clenching teeth during the day. Many people believe that bruxism is caused by high levels of stress. While this is a risk factor for teeth grinding and clenching, many patients experience habitual bruxism from very early ages that can last a lifetime.
Why do I Need to Treat Bruxism?
Some patients think that they don’t need to treat bruxism, and they consider it to be merely a bad habit. The sad truth is that untreated bruxism can lead to numerous oral health concerns. As teeth are ground together, the enamel becomes thinner. This makes teeth more sensitive to changes in temperature. It also weakens the teeth increasing the risk for decay, cracks, and other damage. From a cosmetic standpoint, bruxism can change the shape of the smile making teeth look stubby, and as the enamel wears away, the inner dentin layer is exposed giving teeth a yellowed or discolored appearance.
How is Bruxism Treated?
We offer patients who grind and clench their teeth a simple, comfortable treatment solution. Occlusal guards, more often referred to as nightguards, protect teeth from potential wear. We can custom craft a full arch guard or use an NTI appliance. These compact guards clip to the front teeth making them easier to insert and extract and more comfortable to wear during sleep for many patients, especially those with more sensitive gag reflexes.
Is There a Difference Between Custom & Store Bought Oral Appliances?
The main difference between a custom nightguard and a store bought appliance is comfort. Boil and bite oral appliances are warmed, typically in boiling water, and they are formed to your teeth when you bite down on the softened plastic. Even after these appliances are fitted to teeth, they can feel bulky or uncomfortable, and many patients discontinue regular wear for this reason. Our nightguards are custom crafted to ensure patients receive oral appliances that are both well-made and comfortable.
What Comes Next?
We can get started creating your custom occlusal guard at a regular preventive checkup, or you can contact us any time to schedule a consultation. When we determine you’re in need of a nightguard, the process is simple and painless. Impressions and digital scans collect information about patients’ tooth anatomy that will be used by our dental lab to craft a custom fitted full mouth appliance or an NTI guard. It’s that simple. Just a few extra minutes, during any office visit to protect your smile.