Who Can Benefit From a Night Guard?

Do you wake up with facial pain or headaches? Do your jaws click or stick when you chew or yawn? Have you had fractured or cracked teeth? Then you could have a nighttime grinding or clenching problem — and a night guard could help.

A custom-made night guard can help protect your teeth and reduce the strain on your jaws and face muscles. The key is to have a night guard that’s designed just for your mouth, so you can reap all the benefits while still getting a good night’s sleep.

At A to Z Dental Studio, Hiba Zakhour, DDS, and her team use advanced technology to design custom night guards based on each patient’s unique symptoms and anatomy. Here’s how to tell if a night guard could benefit you.

Night guard basics

Like its name implies, a night guard is a mouth guard you wear while you sleep. But while most mouth guards (like sports guards) are worn to protect your teeth and jaw from impact injuries, you wear a night guard to protect your teeth and jaw from damage due to grinding (bruxism) and clenching.

Bruxism and teeth clenching are surprisingly common. About 10% of adults have nighttime teeth grinding, along with up to 40% of kids. Grinding and clenching probably don’t sound too serious. But consider this: If you grind or clench, you’re subjecting your teeth to about 250 pounds of force — drastically higher than the normal amount of force applied during regular biting and chewing.

Now imagine you’re doing that every night, night after night. It’s easy to see how a grinding or clenching problem can lead to some really serious problems, including:

Wearing a night guard helps reduce the effects of grinding and clenching by providing a cushioning surface between your teeth.

Night guard fittings: What to expect

Night guards are made of super durable material designed to cushion your teeth and prevent the damaging force and friction that causes tooth wear and jaw strain. In order to fit properly and work correctly, a night guard needs to be professionally fitted.

At your first visit, Dr. Zakhour takes impressions of your teeth. The impressions are sent to a dental lab that specializes in night guard fabrication. Using impressions means your night guard will have a custom fit that’s not only super comfortable, but also provides maximum protection for your teeth based on your grinding and clenching habits.

It takes about two weeks for a night guard to be custom made. Once your guard is ready, you’ll come in for a second visit so we can make sure your guard fits securely and comfortably.

How to tell if you need a night guard

Certainly, if you know you grind or clench your teeth at night, it’s a good idea to schedule a night guard evaluation. The same is true if you have TMJ, jaw or face pain, chronic headaches, or other effects of grinding and clenching.

But many people grind and clench and don’t even know it. Fortunately, our team can identify the telltale signs of grinding during a regular office visit, even if other symptoms haven’t developed yet. If we see those signs, we’ll let you know, so you can decide if a night guard is right for you.

To learn more about night guards or to schedule a night guard evaluation, call the office in Fairfax, Virginia, or book an appointment online and learn how A to Z Dental can help.

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