Ask The Dentist: Bite guards can aid teeth grinding but don't buy one from web

Dentist Lucy Stock of Gentle Dental Care in Belfast says if grinding your teeth is the problem, buying a mouth guard on the internet isn't the solution

If you choose to have a bite guard your dentist is the best person to make one that fits correctly
Lucy Stock

IF YOU are suffering from nightly elbows in your back, you are possibly a nocturnal grinder who is driving your partner mad with the noise of gnashing your teeth together.

Tooth grinding, or bruxism, can not only wear teeth down to stumps but break teeth and overload facial muscles and joints, leaving an impression that you have done three rounds in a boxing ring on waking.

If bruxing is left untreated some people put such amazing forces on their teeth that tooth roots actually begin to dissolve under the pressures.

Interestingly there appears to be a genetic component to bruxing where if other people in your family brux then you can be 50 per cent more likely to do it.

It’s very tempting to look on the internet and buy a cheap mouth guard as, logically, you would be believe that placing something in your mouth would protect your teeth from wearing away and give you some comfort.

However, beware: you may just be purchasing an increase in your symptoms and more complex problems to fix.

The top teeth are held in their position by the bottom teeth and vica versa. Many of the internet mouth guards are not custom made and so do not cover all your teeth. So, if you wear them long term the teeth that aren’t covered will over erupt – literally grow out of position and start contacting too soon.

Then you will feel as if teeth are in the way more, grinding can worsen and it can feel as if you don’t have a bite. If you choose to have a bite guard your dentist is the best person to make one that fits correctly.

Sports guards bought on the internet don’t fall into the problem category as they are worn for such short times that it doesn’t make a difference to tooth position.

There are many different types of bite guards; some to protect teeth and some that can help fix the problem. It's important to find one that works for you. Therapeutic bite splints can help align jaw joints that have gone off piste and no longer function harmoniously.

If you are grinding look into whether you have a sleep problem like obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia or restless leg syndrome as these have been linked to more jaw movements.

Teeth should only touch when we are speaking, swallowing or chewing, this is a mere 10 minutes a day. So, if you are going full tilt on tooth grinding ask your dentist to diagnose the problem and come up with a plan.

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