Teeth grinders (we call them bruxers or clenchers), often need a bite guard for either nighttime or, sometimes, daytime relief. Some people grind their teeth at night, or even during the day, for many reasons such as misalignment of teeth, high restorations that do not properly meet with the teeth above (called an abnormal bite or the scientific term: malocclusion), daily stress, and other factors. For patients who experience discomfort because of grinding, Dr. Stanley Wendt, Jr. recommends wearing a mouth guard, and offers them at his San Antonio dental practice. While many people are unaware that they grind their teeth, headaches and jaw aches may occur and provide a clue that they are grinding their teeth. If you think you may be grinding your teeth, contact our practice today to learn more about the treatment options listed below.
Why Wear a Mouth Guard?
In some cases, everyday grinding (chronic grinding) of our teeth can result in fracturing our teeth, loosening of the teeth if we have gum disease, or even loss of tooth structure, forming that “V” shaped groove in our teeth at the gum line. People can actually grind their teeth so much that the teeth are worn down literally to stubs. This causes changes in the appearance of the face. We have all seen our grandparents and other older people who look like their face is shorter than we remember, causing wrinkles in the corners of the mouth, and the person to look a lot older than they actually are. To restore this situation takes time and money to build up and replace the lost tooth structure. The process is called full mouth rehabilitation and usually involves the placement ofcrowns and bridges to make the worn stubs look like teeth again.
Placing an appliance, where we can grind on plastic instead of the opposing teeth, helps resolve the symptoms, the destruction of tooth structure, and sometimes the problem. When the daily stresses build up in our lives we need an outlet and our minds usually look to our mouth, which is the most sensitive, yet powerful, area of our body. By placing a smooth, relatively flat surface in between the teeth, our mind will not find a discrepancy to focus on, or seek to alleviate stress through teeth grinding.
Choosing a Mouth Guard
We see many people come in with various types of bite guards, hard and soft, with various types of clasps to hold the mouth guard in. In our San Antonio practice, Dr. Shaffer uses a combination of a hard, plastic outer surface with a soft inner layer of flexible material to get the most retention and the most comfortable fit. It’s this combination that our patients like best. Some patients don’t like a hard mouth guard so Dr. Shaffer will provide those patients with a soft mouth guard to help them stop the harm they are doing to their teeth. Soft bite guards wear out faster than the hard/soft bite guards, but both need to be replaced in five years or less to provide the best results. Lyndel, our hygienist, and Dr. Shaffer will be happy to check your old mouth guard each time you come for you cleaning. That way they will know when your bite guard is worn out. We can then discuss the next step in getting you fitted for a new bite guard to protect your teeth.
Contact Alon Dental Care
Protecting your teeth is an important part of staying healthy. If you are interested in learning more about wearing a mouth guard, call Robin, our hygiene coordinator at Alon Dental Care. She can get you set up for an appointment to have your old bite guard checked, or for impressions for a new mouth guard (night guard).