Lots of people grind their teeth. This can cause headaches and other tension. Some grinders do it while they’re awake, but many more do it while they’re asleep. That can make it difficult to treat. One of the biggest challenges with night-time grinders is that they may not know they’re doing it until too late.
Sometimes, if a patient’s lucky, a spouse or partner notices the grinding noise. Other people may not know they have an issue until the dentist notices worn-down teeth. Signs of grinding can include small cuts on the inside of the cheeks and dental pain. It’s estimated that up to 25% of Americans deal with this issue. Both adults and children can be affected by grinding.
The formal name for tooth grinding is bruxism. Bruxism can cause sleep disturbances, chipped teeth, headaches, jaw pain, and other problems. One of the most common solutions for people dealing with this problem is a mouthguard. Mouthguards are available in a number of designs, and at a number of price points.
The most accessible mouthguard is the boil and bite type. This is a moldable version that people can fit for themselves at home. These are made from materials that are soft enough to be malleable in boiling water. They have a soft mouthfeel and can be very comfortable. However, people may wear through several of these mouthguards in any year. This type of mouthguard is sold at grocery stores, pharmacies and box stores.
Custom-made guards are molded from an impression someone makes at home. They can also be ordered by a dentist. These tend to be much more durable than boil and bite mouthguards. They can be made of materials including laminate and acrylic. These mouthguards tend to be something that is made by mail order. The impression is sent away and the mouthguard is shipped back to the sender.
No one quite knows what the underlying cause of bruxism is. At one point, the theory was that bruxism was caused by poorly aligned teeth. Now, researchers seem confident that tooth grinding is something that patients are more or less hard-wired for. Certain conditions like stress or anxiety may trigger the onset, grinding is something that some people will never do.