A New Approach To Protecting Teeth and Smiles: The Modern Night Guards
As a Dentist in New York City, I see MANY patients with worn, damaged, chipped and broken teeth, jaw joint disorders and muscle discomfort. In the general population, it has been stated that anywhere from 8 – 30% of people clench or grind their teeth. However, if you are a Type A personality, under stress, sleep-deprived, or smoke; it is more likely you will actually clench or grind. Most people are not aware of it, but it can cause damage to your teeth, recession of your gums, and pain in your jaw muscles and joints (TMJ).
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Honestly, most people have no idea that they clench or grind their teeth. Only after excessive time and wear, will you have symptoms. Some common symptoms in include; pain in the jaw joint and muscles (especially in the morning), recession of the gums, and wear (shrinking) of the teeth. These are all major concerns and the force you can produce during nighttime clenching and grinding is extreme. You have to appreciate that enamel (the outer shell of your teeth) is harder than bone and when you clench and grind, over time, you completely erode this protective layer of your teeth
If you clench or grind your teeth, there is No Way to Stop It. You can only hope to control it (and in the meantime protect your teeth from the forces). Before bed, try to relax and be as stress-free as possible. Also, limit caffeine and smoking before bed. A night guard is required to protect your teeth from the forces and there are 2 that I recommend based on your signs and symptoms. These are either an Essix Night Guard or NTI Night Guard. These are very different than traditional old-school night guards that are big and bulky and often not worn by patients due to discomfort.
ESSIX NIGHT GUARD (Super Thin Full Arch Night Guard)
- If you have worn, chipped, or damaged teeth, gum recession but are not aware of any tooth discomfort, muscle pain, tension headaches or migraines, or jaw pain – I recommend an essix night guard.
NTI NIGHT GUARD (Anterior Night Guard)
- If you have worn, chipped, or damaged teeth, gum recession AND you are aware tooth discomfort, muscle pain, tension headaches or migraines, or jaw pain – I recommend an NTI as a night guard.
- This appliance only covers the front teeth and prevents the back teeth from touching – thus dramatically shutting down the muscles and not allowing any teeth contact and preventing tooth wear and muscle fatigue.
As a summary, you cannot stop clenching and grinding. See your dentist for a thorough exam, you want to be proactive and protect your teeth, gums, and joints.