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18 May

What is a Dental Night Guard?

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession have had a negative impact on many people’s mental health. During the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.K. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. The close relationship between oral and mental health means that many adults have been reportedly clenching and grinding their teeth as their body naturally responds to the worry and stress of the coronavirus pandemic.   

Tension, stress, and anxiety experienced during the daytime can carry over to an individual’s sleep, and lead the person to grind his teeth together, often unknowingly. Occasional teeth grinding may not cause any real concerns, but long-term, consistent Bruxism can lead to broken teeth, loss of tooth enamel, and in severe cases, loss of teeth.

BRUXISM TYPES

There are two types of bruxism, and their symptoms and causes can differ:

  • Awake bruxism (AB), also called diurnal bruxism, occurs when people are awake, and symptoms often worsen as the day progresses. It is more common in women.
  • Sleep bruxism (SB), also called nocturnal bruxism, occurs during the night, and symptoms are often worse when a person first wakes up.

BRUXISM SYMPTOMS

Most of the time, bruxism is not severe enough to cause major problems, and symptoms can range from person to person depending on whether they grind their teeth during the day or overnight.

Signs and symptoms of bruxism may include:

  • Aching jaw muscles
  • Chewed places on the tongue or cheek
  • Damage to teeth (e.g., chips fractures, worn enamel, flattened tops, loose teeth) 
  • Disruption to sleep due to waking up from the sound of grounding
  • Earaches (with no symptoms of an ear infection or other ear problems)
  • Headaches (including tension headaches from day grinding and morning headaches for night time bruxism)
  • Neck pain or soreness
  • Noise from the grinding or clenching that wakes your sleeping partner
  • Severe facial pain
  • Teeth that are very sensitive to cold, heat, or pressure
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder

DENTAL NIGHTGUARD

Fortunately, there are a few quick and non-invasive solutions for people suffering from bruxism. Damage to the tooth enamel can be avoided with the help of custom nightguards, shaped to match your teeth and jaw perfectly. They work by putting a barrier between your teeth. When you clench your jaw, the night guard helps to lighten the tension and give cushion to the muscles in the jaw.  Nightguards are created through a non-invasive process that includes taking an impression of the bottom and top rows of teeth. The result is a nightguard that is flexible, comfortable, and personalized to your mouth.

Although it’s important to wear your nightguard faithfully if you grind your teeth at night, you can also follow a few self-care tips to help to prevent the pandemic’s effect on your oral health. 

  • Reduce tension and stress. Whether you take a warm bath before bed, listen to soothing music, or exercise, practicing stress-relieving activities can help alleviate stress and tension.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine. In some patients, alcohol and caffeine can increase teeth-grinding tendencies.
  • Focus on relaxing jaw muscles. Make a conscious effort to keep your jaw relaxed. A warm washcloth against your cheek, sticking your tongue between your teeth, and avoiding chewing pencils, pens, and gum are all ways to train the muscles of your jaw to stay relaxed. Remember: lips together, teeth apart!

If you suspect that bruxism is the cause for your headaches or jaw pain, please contact our office and schedule an appointment on 020 3583 9809

 

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