Bruxism or teeth grinding and clenching is a common phenomenon that many people face, often without even realizing it. Continual teeth grinding can wear down teeth, damage dental fillings, cause pain in the jaw and face and negatively impact a person’s smile.
Bruxism often occurs while an individual sleeps, a significant factor when considering that many do not realize they are grinding their teeth. The exact cause is not known, but it may include obstructive sleep apnea, daytime stress, smoking, caffeine or heavy alcohol use. For sleep bruxism, a splint or nightguard is often used to assist in treating the problem and preventing further damage to the teeth. Professional nightguards are constructed from form fitting acrylic and designed to protect the teeth from the damage caused by grinding while a person sleeps. Nightguards cover the entire jaw and fit over the upper or lower teeth. The provide a slim barrier between the teeth, putting a halt to the wearing down that typically occurs when grinding continues for a prolonged period of time.
Daytime teeth clenching – another form of bruxism – is less common but does occur in about 10-percent of the population. According to the American Academy of Oral Medicine, clenching is particularly prevalent during periods of anger, stress or intense concentration, and many people are unaware that they are clenching their teeth. While behavioral modifications and habit reversal are often effective in putting an end to daytime teeth clenching, in the short term, dental professionals may recommend the wearing of a dayguard. Dayguard are constructed and worn much like nightguards except during daytime hours. They can serve two purposes – stabilization to prevent clenching or bruxism or repositioning to guide the lower jaw forward, adjusting the bite and allowing the muscles and ligaments to relax.
Because of high percentage of sports – related accidents, it is crucial that healthcare providers recommend the use of well – fitted mouthguards and sportsguards. These simple appliances are designed to protect the oral region including the alveolar ridges, teeth and soft tissues of the mouth. According to the National Institute for Dental Research, only 75 percent athletes comply with the imposed regimens. The remaining 25 percent consists mostly of young females that choose not to wear any protective gear for the following reasons:
- Lack of aesthetics
- Transient perception of the sport involved, the female will only participate for a short period of time and does not plan on any career within the temporarily chosen field of sports
- Less stringent rules apply than for the male athletes
- Females are less aggressive, thus lesser chance of injury exists
Not wearing a mouthguard is a critical mistake that can cause damage to teeth and gums, and that is why we encourage our active patients who are participating in contact sports to wear these devices. The most common reason for not using the mouthguards in both gender groups is the perception of hindered breathing.The Oso Marguerite team of dental professionals designs ideal mouthguards to fit the following criteria:
- It should adequately cover the entire arches including the soft tissues.
- The occlusal thickness of the material used should be at least 3 mm to prevent premature wear and tear.
- Both upper and lower mouthguards should be seated in equilibrated position with each other.
- The mouthguards fit securely and will not dislodge upon impact.
- All materials used are FDA approved.
- The mouthguards will only minimally affect the speech patterns.
The mouthguards and sports guards are generally manufactured from thermoplastic copolymer and categorized into three types:
- Stock Mouthguards – They can be purchased at a department store, sporting goods outlet or a pharmacy. These mouthguards are typically made of rubber, do not fit well and require the jaws to be closed to keep the appliance in place. Because they do not fit well, they may affect the breathing and are only recommended for a short – time wear.
- Mouth – formed Protectors – These preformed thermoplastic pieces are fabricated using hot water to soften the material and then placed over the teeth to set. It is the most popular method amongst athletes due to the ease of application and low cost.
- Custom Made Mouthguards – These styles are specifically designed for each patient and are the most effective.
The Oso Marguerite team in Mission Viejo fabricates mouthguards and sportsguards using skill and expertise. The process is quick, pain-free and convenient, consisting of two consecutive visits. The impressions of the mouth are taken during the first visit. The custom fit appliance is delivered to the patient during the second appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will a mouthguard cure my bruxism?
A mouthguard cannot cure bruxism. The reason why you are grinding your teeth may take the time to evaluate, discover and remedy. In the meantime, a customized mouthguard helps protect your teeth from wear so they stay stronger, healthier and more beautiful until the reason for your teeth grinding is found and eliminated.
Who should wear a sports guard?
Sports guards should be worn by any adult or child participating in a sport that might cause injury to the teeth, oral soft tissue or jaw. Examples include but are not limited to football, martial arts and roller blading.
If I wear a night guard, will it fall out while I am sleeping?
A customized nightguard like the ones created by Oso Marguerite Dental is designed to stay in place throughout the night. It should fit comfortably and never hinder your ability to sleep soundly. If you have been fitted with a nightguard and are having difficulty keeping it in place through the evening, call Oso Marguerite Dental for an evaluation and to see if any adjustments need to be made.
I am wearing a store bought mouthguard, and it is not comfortable. What should I do?
Store bought mouthguards are appropriate for certain use, but they are not designed to fit or function in the way a custom designed mouthguard is. If you find that your mouthguard is ill fitting, not functioning as intended or uncomfortable, call Oso Marguerite Dental to schedule a consultation and discuss custom fit mouthguards.