Teeth grinding is a pretty common problem in Canada. According to the Canadian Sleep Society, about 8% of adults and 13% of children in Canada grind their teeth during their sleep, a problem known as sleep bruxism. There are a number of different consequences to nighttime grinding, including headaches, tooth sensitivity, and tooth or jaw pain. There are a number of different possible causes for sleep bruxism – it could be caused by a misalignment of the teeth, stress, and other problems. Health problems are most easily addressed when the root cause is found, but given that the root cause of bruxism is so often difficult to treat, and given that it can be caused by a confluence of factors, techniques to mitigate damage have been developed. The main tool used to stop you from damaging your teeth? Nightguards.
Damage due to bruxism is caused by tooth-on-tooth pressure. Think about how much force you can apply with a bite, then consider that amount of force being applied slowly, night by night, on a bunch of your teeth – it’s no wonder it can cause them to wear down and crack! Nightguards stop damage by alleviating tooth on tooth pressure; they form a protective barrier around your teeth, so they can’t grind against one another, and the pressure from your bite is reduced. There are two general categories of night guard: over-the-counter and fitted.
Over-the-counter night guards are quite simply nightguards that you can purchase without any type of prescription or dentist approval (though if you’re buying night guards, you should talk to your dentist). These are sometimes referred to as boil-and-bite night guards, because in order to shape them to your mouth, you boil the device, then bite down on it, so it forms in the impression of your teeth – be sure to let it cool a bit before biting, though! These night guards are cheaper than the ones you can get from your dentist, but they are less well fitted to your mouth.
The alternative, of course, is fitted nightguards. These are carefully moulded to fit your teeth in a laboratory after your dentist has taken a careful impression of your mouth. We encourage you to talk to your dentist if you’re concerned you might be experiencing sleep bruxism – depending on the severity of your symptoms and how comfortable you feel, your dentist might recommend either form of night guard. While fitted night guards are more expensive, some patients may find them more comfortable or effective than their over the counter kin.
Getting a night guard can help protect your teeth. You should be mindful, however, that it’s not solving the underlying problem, so much as it’s protecting you from damage. Stress reduction techniques, orthodontic devices, and other tools can help you reduce or eliminate sleep bruxism. Professional dentists in Winnipeg can help you pinpoint the source of your bruxism, and give recommendations for how to manage it.