If you suffer from jaw pain, it could be caused by bruxism (grinding your teeth), TMJ (soreness of your ‘chewing’ muscles), or indeed a whole host of other possible reasons. Here at Modern Family Dentists LLC, we can find out the cause and offer a variety of treatments to ease your pain and have your smiling again. One such treatment is the use of a custom-made mouth guard.
Many people associate mouth guards with highly physical sports such as boxing, football and martial arts. However, mouth guards can also be used to effectively treat many dental issues.
What is a mouth guard?
A mouth guard is a flexible custom-made shield for your teeth, usually made from rubber or plastic. They are designed to create a physical barrier between your upper and lower teeth to prevent damage from grinding or clenching.
Athletes use mouth guards to protect their teeth from damage caused by a blow to the face, which is a common risk in many sports. These are commonly available over-the-counter and are not specifically designed to treat dental issues.
In dentistry, mouth guards are custom-made from an imprint of an individual’s’ teeth so it fits perfectly in the mouth, helping to relieve the patient of pain from various conditions such as bruxism and TMJ. Compared to store-bought mouth guards, a custom-made mouth guard is much more effective, comfortable and durable.
How do I know if I need a mouth guard?
There are many reasons people wear mouth guards. While it is common practice to wear one while playing various sports, you may need a custom-made mouth guard if:
- You have chipped a tooth – chipping a tooth without any obvious cause may be a sign that you are grinding your teeth at night. Bruxism – or teeth grinding – can become so serious that the teeth become damaged. A custom-made mouth guard can help prevent any further damage.
- You chronically grind your teeth – some people only grind their teeth in certain circumstances such as when they are under a lot of stress. However, if your teeth grinding has become a habit, then a mouth guard may be required to protect your teeth until the habit has been broken.
- You have a headache when you wake up – you may not even be aware that you’re grinding your teeth. Grinding teeth during sleep affects up to 8% of adults, and can cause those affected to wake up with a headache due to the pressure caused by grinding all night. A mouth guard won’t stop the grinding, but it will protect your teeth until the cause of the grinding has been treated.
- You have TMJ (Temporomandibular Disorder) – this disorder is marked by an inflammation of the jaw muscles and can be caused by clenching the jaw or teeth grinding. A mouth guard can help prevent clenching and grinding, which in turn can help reduce the pain caused by TMJ.
How often do I need to replace my mouth guard?
If well looked after, your mouth guard could last you a lifetime, if required. However, you should bring your mouth guard to be reviewed by your dentist every 12 months to see if it still fits your teeth and gums as well as it should.
The pain caused by bruxism, TMJ, and other disorders can make people unhappy. If you’ve lost your smile because of involuntary teeth grinding or jaw pain, make an appointment with Modern Family Dentists LLC today for your custom-made mouth guard. We’d love to see you smile again, and remember – Smiles Change Outcomes.