Feeling pain is how your body tells you that something just is not right. Waking up morning after morning with pain in your jaw could be an indication of a condition known as bruxism. Bruxism can cause unbearable discomfort and can have a significant impact on your overall quality of life. At Lake Sammamish Family Dentistry, we can help to alleviate your jaw pain, improving the health and function of your mouth, with a custom fit night guard.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is an oral condition in which you grind and clench your teeth. Grinding and clenching are caused by the contractions of the muscles in your jaws, forcing your teeth together. While the condition can affect you at any time of the day, it is most common at night. This is because, during the day, you are more aware of your muscles. If you notice that your teeth are clenched, you can take action to stop it. At night, however, when the muscles contract, you are completely unaware of it.
Symptoms of Bruxism
There are some different symptoms of bruxism. Some of the symptoms are immediately apparent. Others, however, come on gradually, worsening over time. Symptoms of bruxism include:
- Pain in your jaw and temporomandibular joints.
- Facial pain.
- Uneven or excessive wear on the chewing surfaces of your teeth. This wear can increase your risk for tooth decay and cavities. It also puts your teeth at risk for physical damage.
- Gum recession, which can also lead to tooth sensitivity.
- Loose teeth and tooth loss. Excessive tooth wear can wear away the bone in your jaw, causing your teeth to become unstable.
- Chronic headaches or earaches.
Bruxism does not have one singular cause. There are a few different issues that can lead to grinding and clenching. One of the most common causes is stress. When you are under stress, all of your muscles become tense. Stress can even affect you while you sleep. Other causes of bruxism include:
- Stimulants such as caffeine.
- Certain types of medication.
- Lifestyle habits like smoking and drinking.
- Poorly aligned teeth or jaws.
Treating Bruxism with a Night Guard
We can help to alleviate the symptoms of bruxism with a custom-made night guard. There are two types of night guards. One type covers the entire upper arch of your teeth, similar to a sports mouth guard. It works to provide a cushion against the pressures exerted by your jaw muscles, absorbing the impact. The other type of night guard covers only the very front teeth. This type of night guard works to keep your jaws in proper alignment and prevents the upper and lower teeth from making contact with one another.
Why Get a Custom Night Guard?
Many patients wonder why they should spend the money on a custom night guard when they can pick up a night guard from the pharmacy. While these night guards are often cheaper, they are not nearly as effective. Many over the counter night guards do not fit properly. They may fall out while you are sleeping. Some can even interfere with your breathing. We create a custom night guard from digital impressions of your mouth. Not only do we create one to the exact specifications of your mouth, but we are also able to take your bite into account as well. This ensures that your night guard is comfortable as well as effective, enabling you to get the relief that you need. Although a night guard cannot stop bruxism, it can alleviate the symptoms, significantly improving your quality of life. For more information, and to find out if a night guard is right for you, call Lake Sammamish Family Dentistry today at (425) 392-3900.