If you're wondering if a night guard can help straighten your smile, the short answer is, sadly, no. You may be thinking of removable mouth trays, known as aligners, that can help straighten teeth over time. However, night guards are not designed to work the same way that aligners do.
Although night guards cannot help straighten teeth, they can prevent issues such as:
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can cause a lot of issues with your teeth. Most grinding happens at night while you’re asleep and you’re unaware it’s happening — because you’re unaware and unconscious, it’s very difficult to modify this behavior. Teeth grinding causes you to lose protective enamel, which leads to very sensitive teeth. Breaking or chipping a tooth is also a possibility, especially if you’re a tough grinder.
The best way to protect your teeth from bruxism is to wear a night guard while you sleep. Your night guard will ensure that your top teeth and bottom teeth have no contact, making grinding impossible.
Much like teeth grinding, jaw clenching is also another problematic behavior that happens in our sleep. When the jaw joint that undergoes tension, known as the TMJ, receives excess pressure, it can become unaligned, leading to dysfunction of the joint. This dysfunction is called TMD, and it can be very painful.
Wearing a night guard allows your jaw to relax while you sleep, so you can avoid putting the TMJ under too much pressure. This reduces jaw tension, TMD pain, and keeps your TMJ in correct alignment to avoid contracting TMD.
A result of both teeth grinding and/or jaw clenching, waking up with headaches is the worst way to start your day. Because your TMJ stretches from your jaw to the side of your head, the tension from grinding and clenching can cause headaches and even earaches. Since night guards prevent grinding and clenching, wearing one while you sleep will also prevent you from beginning your morning with a nasty headache.
If you live alone, snoring may not be a big issue for you. However, if this nighttime behavior bothers your partner, it may be important to address it. Snoring happens because of breathing problems, which are caused by a clenched jaw. Because a night guard keeps your top and bottom jaws from touching, you are able to breathe in more air while sleeping. This extra air prevents breathing problems, and in turn, snoring.
If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, a night guard may be a good option for you. There are many different types of night guards, from custom-fitted options to models for extreme grinders. Some popular night guards include:
At Parris Orthodontics, we treat each patient the way we would want to be treated - with love, kindness, and respect. Whether you are thinking of getting a night guard or know someone who suffers from jaw pain, we can help you achieve the results you’ve been looking for. Contact us today and schedule your evaluation!
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