Nightguards – Greenbelt, MD
Protect Teeth & Relieve Pain
Keeping patients’ smiles whole, happy, and healthy is important to the McCarl Dental Group team. That means helping to educate our patients about the importance of preventive dentistry, including daily oral hygiene, regular trips to see our team for dental checkups and teeth cleanings, as well as using protective mouthguards to prevent dental damage. If you notice that your teeth look worn, your jaw hurts in the morning, or you have very deep pits in the biting surfaces of teeth, chances are you’re struggling with bruxism, and it’s time to talk to the McCarl Dental Group team about protecting your smile with a custom nightguard from our Greenbelt, MD dentist.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is an unconscious condition that causes people to grind or clench their teeth. In most cases, people experience bruxism while they’re sleeping, so unless someone hears you grinding your teeth, you may not even know it’s happening. Some people also grind and clench teeth during the day, but this is usually connected with stress, jaw misalignment, or other concerns that can be addressed through lifestyle changes or dental treatment. Nighttime teeth grinding and clenching, bruxism, may also be linked to stress or bite alignment concerns, but for some people, this is a lifelong, unconscious habit.
What Happens if I Don’t Treat Bruxism?
Unfortunately, failing to treat chronic bruxism can lead to a wide range of oral health concerns. The continued pressure from grinding and clenching teeth together at night can lead to serious dental damage like chips and cracks in the surfaces of teeth. Over time, teeth begin look shorter as the enamel on the biting surface is slowly worn away. Additionally, the grinding and clenching often causes patients to develop deeper pits and grooves in the biting surfaces of their teeth. This makes removing bacteria and plaque more difficult, leading to an increased risk for tooth decay.
In addition to damage to teeth, untreated bruxism can lead to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, which is often referred to simply as TMJ or TMD. This condition occurs when the TMJ (small joints that connect the jaw and skull) are damaged or strained. When patients grind and clench their teeth at night, they are significantly increasing their risk to damage these jaw joints. People aren’t always aware of just how much pressure they’re placing on their jaw as they grind and clench teeth until they wake up in the morning with jaw pain, headaches, and other symptoms of TMJ dysfunction. Treating bruxism by wearing a nightguard can significantly diminish risk for developing TMD as well as helping to prevent other oral health concerns.
How do Nightguards Help?
In order to protect teeth from the damage caused by unconscious grinding and clenching, your dentist will likely recommend you wear a nightguard while you sleep. These guards place a thin, protective barrier of plastic between the rows of teeth. This allows you to continue moving your teeth during sleep while reducing the risk for dental damage.
Why Should I Use a Custom Nightguard?
There are many types of nightguard available to purchase over the counter, but these products are often made of low quality materials and need to be replaced frequently. Custom nightguards from your dentist are made from stronger plastic that is custom-molded to fit your bite, ensuring total comfort. The initial investment is a little higher, but a custom nightguard will outlast any store-bought appliance, and the comfort of a custom-fitted oral appliance means you’re much more likely to use your nightguard as directed.