Dental Care Blog
Doug Klein DDS, Grandville MI
You might not be familiar with the term “bruxism,” but you’ve probably experienced it more than a few occasions throughout your life. That’s because bruxism is simply grinding your teeth, something that most people do in their sleep.
Learn how to treat bruxism with various types of bite guards, how they work and how to care for yours.
Occasional teeth grinding usually doesn’t cause harm, but when this occurs on a regular basis, teeth can be damaged and you are at risk of other complications. Each time you grind, your teeth are losing enamel — their protective outer layer. When this enamel is gone, it can’t be replaced and you’re at an increased risk for damage like cavities. Additionally, your teeth could loosen and crack, you could be doing damage to your cheeks, and even your jaw could be affected.
One of the most common treatment methods for bruxism is a bite guard, a device that is placed in the mouth, generally at night, in order to stop the teeth from grinding or clenching together. Though a bite guard isn’t a cure-all, it will keep your jaw in place and stop your teeth from moving against each other, helping to alleviate any damage caused by your grinding.
Most people have a few questions when told that they need a bite guard, and at Klein Dentistry we are more than happy to help alleviate any concerns.
These are individually designed and made in a dental office based on your dentist’s instructions. An impression is made of your teeth and a mouth guard is then molded over the model using a special material. While more expensive than the other types, it provides the most comfort and protection.
These are taken right off the shelf and put in your mouth. While inexpensive, you can’t do much to adjust their fit, they’re bulky, make breathing and talking difficult, and they provide little or no protection.
These can also be bought at the store and are made from thermoplastic material that’s placed in hot water to soften, then placed in the mouth and shaped around the teeth using finger and tongue pressure. This type often doesn’t last long, and is not recommended.
The key to a good fit with your bite guard is to have it custom made by your dentist specific to your mouth. You can work with your dentist to get the most comfortable fit and make any adjustments necessary. But in general, if you have to bite or clench to keep your bite guard in place, your bite guard doesn’t fit properly. Many people are worried that it feels too tight, and that their teeth will move. Fortunately, that tight feeling is actually a good sign that it fits well to your teeth and that it will stay in while you sleep.
Remember that it will feel a little uncomfortable at first and it could take you up to two weeks to adjust to having it in your mouth. If you stick with it though, pretty soon you won’t even notice it’s there.
Bite guards generally only cover your upper teeth, but in some instances — if you wear braces or an appliance on your lower jaw or have TMJ — your dentist will also make a mouth guard for the lower teeth.
It’s very important that you clean your bite guard after each time that you use it. Rinse it with cold water or with a mouth rinse before and after each use, and gently clean it with a toothbrush. When you’re not wearing your bite guard, keep it in a firm, perforated container that permits air circulation and helps to prevent damage. Also be sure to keep it away from high temperatures to minimize the chance of distorting its shape.
And above all else, be sure to talk to your dentist if you notice any changes with your bite guard or your oral health.
To learn more about how Klein Dentistry can help you with your bite guard, contact us anytime. We’d love to learn more about your unique situation and find a treatment plan that’s right for you.