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Night Guards, What are they?

What are Night Guards anyway?

Night Guards
This is an example of what a Night Guard looks like.

 Night Guards, for your protection (or at least the protection of your teeth)!

Let me start this off with saying, Night Guards are a great thing. I couldn’t say that before seeing some patients that have gone through here. I didn’t really know just how important they could be for some people. I’ve seen the effects of grinding and clenching your teeth, and let me tell you, they are not good.

I know this may be obvious, but let me say it anyway: we are in Washington, DC. To be more specific: we are a dentist office in Washington, DC. This area can be very stressful to be sure. You have traffic, commute, work, relationships, politics, not-so-nice people etc., and all of these things can contribute to the stress we might feel, and that may lead to clenching and grinding your teeth. Just as an “aside”, I recently came across this nifty fact: “Nearly 75 percent of dentists surveyed said their patients reported increased stress in their lives. And 65 percent of dentists said they have seen an increase in jaw clenching and teeth grinding amongst their patients.” This, from a study done by the Chicago Dental Society. It’s pretty safe to say Washington, DC is either on par, or over these numbers. There are some tips given in that study as well that we also would recommend to help reduce stress:

  1. Take a pain reliever. If clenching and grinding is causing headaches and your jaw to be sore, it could be a good idea to take a pain reliever before bed.
  2. Massage. Also, try massaging the muscles along your jaw and under your temple, go from the joint near your ear (very easy to feel where this is with your fingers) all the way to your chin to help alleviate jaw soreness.
  3. Avoid caffeine. Caffeine in conjunction with stress can lead to increased muscle tension. Try to drink more water. If you can’t completely cut caffeine from your life, at least try not to have any within several hours of bedtime.
  4. Be careful with what you eat. When your jaw muscles get inflamed, it’s best to not aggravate them any further. You can do this by avoiding foods that require vigorous chewing. Ice and gum chewing are a surefire way to worsen the problem. Caramel chews? Please, no. Oh, and those quad-stack cheeseburgers? Yeah, since they require you to practically unhinge your jaw, try to avoid them.
  5. Exercise. Exercise relieves stress and helps to reduce anxiety, which are the two biggest reasons one may grind their teeth.
  6. Stress Relieving Techniques. If you know of some activities that help you calm down or help to relieve stress, these can also help. Even some deep breathing before bedtime can be a big help.

Now, we’ve seen the effects of stress in regards to teeth. Micro-cracks along molars and front teeth, chips in the teeth, sensitivity, jaw pain, headaches, in some instances we’ve seen the tooth itself crack (though this is not the regular), and other effects stemming from bruxism (clenching and grinding your teeth). All of these can add up in terms of cost of repair. Needing to get a crown for a broken tooth, getting bonding done because of a chip in your front teeth, buying expensive toothpaste for sensitive teeth, etc. You can wait for bad things to happen if you’re a grinder or…there are Night Guards (almost sounds like a group of super heroes; well, they kind of do save things from harm…teeth in this case).

What are Night Guards and how do we make ’em?

Night Guards are  protective coverings made to fit either the upper or lower teeth. They are usually made of a plastic-like material at a lab, made from impressions that we would take on your teeth in the office. The ones that we offer here are custom made to fit your exact teeth. Depending on what you prefer, we can make them for the entire arch of your teeth, or we can make them to cover just the front few teeth, which will still prevent you from gnashing your actual teeth together. The inside (the part that is in contact with your teeth when you are wearing them) is usually softer and the outside is usually harder. This makes it so, when and if you grind your teeth, you are essentially destroying and grinding the Night Guards, and not your own teeth. Night Guards also soften the impact of your clenching and grinding, helping to reduce headaches and jaw pain caused by doing these actions.

If you do see signs that you may be grinding and clenching your teeth, please, go see your dentist. They can help you! Night Guards are our friends.

Stay healthy my friends.

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