A lot of your friends may be wearing a mouthguard. Your dentist may also recommend you to wear the same, especially if you have the habit to grind your teeth or have a dental issue. These mouthguards could be anything like sports guard, bruxism splint, TMD splint, snore guard, etc. But why do people rely so much on this dental appliance? Here’s are some of the benefits that will answer this question in your mind.
Bruxism, otherwise known as teeth grinding and clenching, is a very common condition and often occurs at night while people sleep. When you unknowingly clench and grind your teeth when asleep, the condition is called sleep bruxism. Sleep bruxism can be due to several reasons such as stress, bad dreams, or stress in the jaw muscles. Pain associated with sleep bruxism can occur in the neck, jaw, and face, or present itself as a headache that starts in the temple area, or as pain similar to an earache. People experiencing bruxism can experience difficulty opening and closing their jaw completely. They can also have fatigue or a tight feeling in the muscles around the jaw, and damage from chewing on the inside of their cheek. Night mouth guards even out the pressure across your jaw and create a physical barrier between your upper and lower teeth to protect them from further damage. They can also reduce any grinding noises you make at night.
Minimizes Obstructive Sleep Apnea
When checking for bruxism, your dentist will also consider if the bruxism is a sign of a more serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Bruxism is found in several patients with OSA. It is characterized by pauses in breathing and shallow breathing while you sleep, which can last anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute. OSA is a serious problem that’s linked to several chronic diseases including high blood pressure, obesity, heart attack, stroke, glaucoma, depression, and diabetes. It occurs when the muscles in the throat relax more than they’re supposed to, blocking air from flowing properly into the airway. When the brain notices the problem, it causes you to awaken suddenly, prompting the muscles in the airway to tighten so normal breathing can resume. This sudden response releases hormones, puts your body under stress, and may cause bruxism. A mouthguard holds the lower jaw forward enough to keep the airway open, preventing the tongue and throat muscles from collapsing into the upper airway and preventing them from blocking the airway.
Helps in Relieving TMD
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is where the lower jaw meets the skull. Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is an issue with symptoms like sore or tender jaw, muscle fatigue, neck pain, clicking, popping, pain, locking, tightness, headaches, and tooth sensitivity. What often happens is your teeth (even if they are perfectly straight) prevent your jaw from resting where it wants to, and this causes your jaw muscles to work overtime. This is how bruxism can be associated with TMD. A mouthguard prevents your upper and lower teeth from coming into contact, lessening the effects of bruxism. It does not stop the habit, but it allows your jaw to rest properly. This helps muscles to relax and provides a high degree of relief.
Prevents Tooth Damage
Consistent sleep bruxism or even awake bruxism can apply excessive pressure to your teeth and gums. Clenching and grinding can result in chipped or broken teeth, cracked teeth, damaged fillings, sensitivity due to excessive enamel wear or even more serious consequences like root and bone damage, and tooth loss. By reducing bruxism, mouthguards also prevent these potential damages caused due to bruxism. Occasional bruxism may not cause any damage, but it is better to wear night mouthguards to avoid the chances of damage caused to your teeth and gums.
Safeguards Against Injuries
If you are a sportsperson, wearing a mouthguard is a must, and that’s exactly what your dentist will also recommend. You never know when you may get a dental injury while playing hockey, football, cricket, hockey, or any other game. Any falls or accidents can damage your teeth and gums and result in minor or severe consequences. Wearing a mouthguard is an important precaution for athletes of all ages and abilities, helping to protect against jaw fracture, cerebral haemorrhage, concussion and neck injuries by avoiding situations where the lower jaw jams into the upper jaw. By keeping soft tissue in the oral cavity away from the teeth, mouth guards help prevent cutting and bruising of the lips, tongue and cheeks.
Protects Braces and Other Dental
If you have braces or you recently got veneers, fillings, or bonding done, your dentist will recommend you to wear a mouthguard. If you are an athlete, it becomes even more necessary for you to wear an athletic mouthguard during your game. Just as mentioned above, any accidents can affect your mouth. In this case, an injury can damage your braces, veneers, bonding, crowns, and other dental work. You can wear a mouthguard even when you are biting on a hard object.
Teeth clenching and grinding can affect your muscles and lead to breathing problems and snoring at night. Snoring happens due to vibrations of soft tissue in your upper airway. A night mouth guard works by pulling your lower jaw forward to keep your airway open. However, there hasn’t been much research done on them, and it’s not clear whether they’re actually effective.
Now that you know several benefits of using a mouthguard, you can consider getting one for yourself. Some types of mouthguards include stock mouth protectors, boil-and-bite protectors, and custom-fitted mouthguards. You can ask your dentist to know which type of mouthguard will be best for you. Depending on your lifestyle, your dental needs, and your budget, the dentist will suggest the perfect fit.