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My dentist says I'm grinding my teeth at night and need a mouth guard. How does a mouth guard work?

Elisa Mello (New York, NY) on Oct 25, 2011
Teeth grinding is extremely destructive. It not only removes tooth structure as the teeth rub against each other, but it can cause fractures of the teeth. Grinding can loosen teeth. It can also cause severe headaches and facial muscle pain. A mouth guard protects the teeth from gnashing against each other. But while mouth guards may be part of the solution to your teeth grinding, the underlying cause of the grinding needs to be carefully investigated.
Leonard Tau (Philadelphia, PA) on Oct 25, 2011
A night guard prevents your top and bottom teeth from touching. It does not prevent you from grinding your teeth.
Ramin Tabib (New York, NY) on Oct 25, 2011
Teeth grinding is extremely destructive. It not only removes tooth structure as the teeth rub against each other but it can cause fractures of teeth. Furthermore, grinding can cause the support of the tooth to lose its anchor and get loose. It can also cause severe headaches and facial muscle pain to name a few. What a mouth guard does is protect the teeth from gnashing against each other. It takes away some of the destructive forces away from the teeth and onto the guard. So it is protective of the teeth and preventive. Mouth guards may be part of the solution to your teeth grinding, however, the underlying cause of grinding needs to be carefully investigated.
Kamini Talati (Port Saint Lucie, FL) on Oct 25, 2011
If you grind your teeth then you are pressing the teeth against each other. Basically, you are wearing your teeth down mechanically through the action of grinding. If you wear a mouth guard it will act as a barrier between your teeth and keep you from wearing your teeth down.
Steven Bader (Newton Centre, MA) on Oct 25, 2011
There are many ways to make and specifically measure the bite for a nightguard. A simple flat nightguard works to protect your teeth from damage due to grinding. More complex nightguards that are measured to relax your muscles can help reduce or prevent the grinding itself. Neuromuscular dentistry uses special instrumentst to actually measure a relaxed jaw position designed to reduce your likelihood of grinding. I hope that helps. Good luck!
Amanda Seay (Mount Pleasant, SC) on Oct 25, 2011
A "mouth guard" can mean a lot of different things. If you are someone who grinds teeth(called bruxing), then you will need a hard acrylic appliance that fits over your upper or lower teeth to protect your teeth from premature wear. That is universal standard no matter what philosophy of dentistry you practice. Some dentists fabricate mouthguards ( also called occlusal splints) to create a comfortable and stable bite for your teeth, muscles and jaw. Wearing the occlusal splint is a time of discovery for both you and your doctor in these situations. It is very likely that many of the signs and symptoms related to your bite will diminish or even disappear.
Aziza Askari (Farmington Hills, MI) on Oct 25, 2011
A mouthguard for bruxism (clenching and grinding teeth) is a simple plastic, custom-fitted oral appliance. When you wear the appliance, your top and bottom teeth won't be able to touch, so you'll lose the ability to clench and grind them. Bruxism is a common problem for children and adults. Left untreated, it can contribute to tooth wear, breakage, and TMJ disorder.
Debra Glassman (New York, NY) on Oct 25, 2011
The mouthguard takes the tooth contact out of the equation and often positions your jaw in a favorable way to limit muscle tension. Also it is much better in the long run to grind plastic then your tooth enamel
Christopher Baer (Aurora, CO) on Oct 25, 2011
There are many different types of mouthguards. We typically call "mouthguards" the type of appliance that protects your teeth during sports activities. What your dentist is recommending is a "Nightguard" This nightguard is worn most commonly at night, to protect the teeth from rubbing together and "grinding" away tooth structure. It also acts as a cushion and can help reduce or eliminate jaw muscle soreness or jaw pain caused by grinding.
Les Latner (Los Angeles, CA) on Oct 25, 2011
A mouthguard keeps your teeth a few millimeters apart, thus allowing your teeth to move freely to the left, right, forward, and back. Many times, with this freedom of movement, a patient will stop grinding. If they don't they will grind on the softer plastic and not wear their teeth. If they wear a hole in the mouthguard, it can be replaced much easier than having to do crowns on all the teeth. Les Latner, DDS drles@ucla.edu