Bruxism, defined as the involuntary or habitual grinding of the teeth, typically during sleep, is a very common problem.
If left untreated, the long term effects of teeth grinding can be devastating, including wearing down/flattening of the teeth, cracking/breaking of teeth, sensitivity, gum recession, bone loss, pain, and tooth loss.
In some cases a guard may be indicated to help protect the teeth from this dangerous phenomenon.
Some tooth grinding is done while asleep, which can be identified by either jaw/tooth soreness, or by a person’s bed partner who hears their teeth grinding together. Some grinding is done during waking hours due to stress/concentration, etc. During the day wearing an appliance over the teeth may or may not be practical. If it is not, you can make an effort to curb the habit (if you catch yourself grinding, tell yourself “lips together, teeth apart”). A guard can separate the teeth to prevent the wear that comes with the tooth-on-tooth (think metal-on-metal in an engine) wear that occurs.
They do sell over the counter (OTC) night guards. They are generally types that you boil in water and then bite into like a mouth guard. They are usually bulkier, less durable, and less comfortable than one that a dentist can make you. Professionally made night guards also are designed for the teeth to come together in a certain way depending on the situation, and this can be verified when the guard is delivered. However, this does not happen with an OTC guard. In some situations an OTC guard is a good starting point if someone needs something to separate their teeth quickly, as it takes at least a few days usually to have a guard made professionally. But long term, a custom made guard is better.
In some cases, a night guard can potentially make sleep worse. One of the causes of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the tongue sliding to the back of the throat and closing off the airway during sleep. One of the purposes of a night guard is to separate the teeth, allowing the lower jaw to slide freely to provide some relief from grinding. Unfortunately, a potential negative side effect of this is that the lower jaw can slide back even farther than normal when the teeth are “locked together”, causing the airway to close even more. If a person is at risk for OSA (snoring, chronic daytime fatigue), AND they grind their teeth, they should be evaluated for OSA with either a home or in-lab sleep study before ANY oral appliance is made. If they are negative for OSA and don’t snore, a night guard may be sufficient. If they are negative for OSA and they snore, a night guard may be sufficient but a snore guard may be better to open up the airway and improve sleep efficiency while also protecting the teeth from the effects of grinding. If OSA is present, a night guard is not advised and either an oral appliance for OSA or a CPAP mask is advised.
|Service||UCR Fee||In Office Benefits Plan fee (25% off)|
* The fees above are for a bruxism (grinding) guard only and do not include x-rays, exams, or any other restorative treatment that may be required prior to having a bite guard made (examples: cleaning, filling(s), crown(s), etc.). Bruxism guards are generally not covered by dental insurance. If you have one of the rare insurance policies that do cover grinding guards, an in office evaluation prior to a firm estimate being given.