Health Inspired Dentistry Blog

Apparently, we all need to wear night guards now 11-01-20

Dentists are reporting a spike in nocturnal grinding—and it can cause serious problems for your teeth’s Jenny McCoy just published an eye-opening story about yet another ill effect of the stress of 2020 – teeth grinding.

According to a recent survey of 3,491 American dentists, the majority of providers have seen a rise in stress-related oral health conditions since the pandemic began. This includes grinding and clenching (technically called bruxing), chipped and cracked teeth, and symptoms of temporomandibular disorders (i.e., dysfunction of the jaw muscles, joints, and nerves).

This isn’t an unusual situation for a dentist to see, but we are seeing a spike in this condition. In fact, it’s estimated that between 80-90% of people sometimes grind and clench their teeth in response to stress. This year health (COVID-19) related concerns, political polarization and job-related issues have taken a toll on our stress levels.

Other existing disorders such as sleep apnea and Parkinson’s can also lead to bruxing and its associated disorders, so we highly recommend taking preventative action.

How can you be sure if you need a night guard?

Obviously, you can ask your dentist. And its likely an experienced dentist like myself may very well identify the signs before you do, so don’t skip those teeth cleanings!

Other signs that you may note on your own is waking up with headaches or an achy jaw. Also look out for teeth cracking, gum recession and jaw popping.

Fortunately, teeth grinding can be easily treated with a plastic night guard

Night guards are a common solution and come in a variety of forms that are comfortable to wear while sleeping. You can get an over-the-counter night guard in most drug stores. They’re typically made of soft plastic material. Or, you can have your dentist make a custom guard, soft or hard plastic, that may be more comfortable as they are usually smaller and more form fitting.

If you’ve had a chronic problem with teeth grinding, it’s a good idea to check with your dentist for a comprehensive look into your situation. Sometimes bruxing is caused by a misaligned jaw and Invisalign teeth straightening could permanently correct the problem. Sometimes some diet restrictions are recommended as well as a short treatment of anti-inflammatories.

The bottom line

Stress has been known to be the #1 contributor to fatal illness for decades now, so try to stay ahead of it with proper diet, exercise and meditation. If teeth grinding has found its way into your sleeping habits your best bet is to discuss your best solutions with your dentist to head off more serious matters.

It may be as cheap and simple as a drug store night guard. Contact us to find out.