Fort Smith, AR
One of the best things you can do for your health is getting a good night's rest. If you grind or clench your teeth while you sleep, this is difficult to do. At Harper Dental, we can treat this condition with nighttime mouthguards.
Bruxism is the technical term for the condition where people grind or clench their teeth. This disorder occurs in both children and adults and can happen during sleep or wakefulness. Nocturnal bruxism or sleep-related bruxism is the name used to identify grinding happening when you're asleep.
Stress and anxiety are considered the most common causes of this disorder. Other reasons include alcohol use, cigarettes, caffeine, sleep apnea, and snoring. In rare cases, bruxism may be the result of facial nerve and muscle disease.
Symptoms of Sleep-Related Bruxism
People with sleep-related bruxism often wake up with unexplained jaw or ear pain. Their lower mandible may show signs of swelling, and the surrounding muscles may be tight or painful. Night time teeth grinders may also have long-lasting facial pain. Persistent bruxism, left unchecked, can result in damaged teeth, broken dental fillings, and injured gums.
Treating Sleep-Related Bruxism
People often don't realize they have sleep-related bruxism. They find out when they start experiencing any of the above signs and symptoms, or their sleeping partners start complaining about the noise.
A thorough dental exam is the best way to confirm in you have bruxism. It involves examining your teeth to assess the wear patterns. Molars are most susceptible to grinding and clenching and often show the most damage. Our dentists will also check out your jaws for bruxism-related damage. We'll also take x-rays of your teeth and jaws to determine the cause of your condition.
Wearing a mouthguard or night guard when you sleep is the most effective way to resolve sleep-related bruxism. This device is also known as a dental guard, nocturnal bite plate, or bite splint and works in two ways. The first is as a protective barrier between the teeth and other teeth or gums. The second is as a cushion that absorbs and disperses the force that comes from the jaws.
To treat sleep-related bruxism, we use either soft night guards, hard night guards, or dual laminate night guards. Soft night guards are best for mild instances of nighttime grinding. For moderate or severe grinders, we suggest dual laminate guards. This type is soft on the inside and hard on the outside. Hard night guards are extremely rigid as they are made from acrylic and are used to treat severe cases of grinding.
Night guards can be worn either over the upper or lower teeth and may be bought over the counter or custom made. Custom devices offer the best fit and comfort and are what we recommend, especially when grinding and clenching is severe.
If you're experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of bruxism and want to learn how to treat the condition, or which type of dental mouthguard to use, contact Harper Dental at (479) 431-0280 today.