Managing Bruxism: Why Does Your Dentist Want You to Wear a Mouthguard?

You may not notice that you grind your teeth a lot at night; however, there will come a time when your dentist spots the habit. Known as bruxism, regular teeth grinding can lead to teeth and jaw problems, and your dentist may want to take steps to control the situation. One way to do this is to wear a mouthguard or splint while you sleep. How does this help?

The Negative Effects of Bruxism

Bruxism is hard to control. If you grind your teeth at night, then you won't know when you're doing it and won't be able to stop. After all, you're asleep when this happens. While grinding your teeth may not seem a big deal, it can be damaging.  For example, if you grind your teeth regularly, then they wear down more quickly. You may start to lose enamel and to need more remedial dental work like fillings or even crowns.

In some cases, rigorous and regular bruxism also leads to pain and problems in the jaw. For example, you may go on to develop temporomandibular disorders that make your jaw tender or painful. On a general level, bruxism affects your quality of sleep and even your daily life. For example, you may get more headaches if you grind your teeth; disturbed nights may leave you feeling tired and listless during the day.

The Positive Effects of Mouthguards 

Wearing a mouthguard or a splint at night can help counter the effects of bruxism. It's not a cure, but it helps. For example, a mouthguard protects your teeth from the effects of grinding. It sits between your upper and lower teeth so, when they grind against each other, they can't do as much damage. Mouthguards also take some of the pressure off your jaw at night. This may reduce the chances that you'll get temporomandibular pain. If you currently have problems in this area, then a mouthguard could minimise your discomfort and stop it from getting worse.

If your dentist wants you to wear a mouthguard, then they think that your bruxism is bad enough to affect your teeth, your jaw or your everyday life. Your dentist may be able to see damage now or may be keen to prevent problems from developing in the future. In either case, it's worth following your dentist's recommendation. As well as giving you extra protection, a mouthguard reduces the chances you'll need potentially expensive dental work in the future.