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Is it OK to wear a mouthguard while sleeping?
Many individuals suffer from various dental conditions that can impact their overall oral health. One common problem is grinding or clenching of teeth during sleep, also known as bruxism. This can lead to jaw pain, headaches, and tooth damage. Dentists often recommend wearing a mouthguard to protect teeth from these effects. However, there is some debate about whether it's safe and effective to wear a mouthguard while sleeping. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of wearing a mouthguard while sleeping and provide insights into making an informed decision.
1. Understanding Bruxism
Bruxism is a condition characterized by the repetitive grinding or clenching of teeth. It mostly occurs during sleep, often without the individual being aware of it. Over time, bruxism can cause tooth enamel erosion, tooth sensitivity, jaw pain, and even cracked teeth. While the exact causes of bruxism are still unknown, it is thought to be related to stress, misaligned teeth, or certain medications.
2. Utilizing a Mouthguard for Bruxism
One common solution for managing bruxism is the use of a mouthguard or nightguard. A mouthguard is a protective device that is worn over the teeth to prevent excessive grinding and clenching during sleep. It acts as a cushion, absorbing the forces exerted by the jaw muscles and preventing teeth from making direct contact with each other.
3. Benefits of Wearing a Mouthguard While Sleeping
Wearing a mouthguard while sleeping offers several benefits for individuals suffering from bruxism. Firstly, it provides a protective barrier between the upper and lower teeth, preventing enamel wear, fractures, and chips that can result from grinding. Additionally, a mouthguard helps to reduce muscle tension and subsequent jaw pain. Moreover, the use of a mouthguard promotes better sleep quality for both the individuals experiencing bruxism and their partners.
4. Types of Mouthguards
There are various types of mouthguards available, and choosing the right one is crucial for comfort and effectiveness.
a. Stock Mouthguards: These pre-formed, ready-to-wear mouthguards can be purchased from most pharmacies or sporting goods stores. However, they provide little customization and may not fit well, leading to discomfort and potential breathing issues.
b. Boil-and-Bite Mouthguards: These mouthguards are made from a thermoplastic material that softens in boiling water. After softening, they can be inserted into the mouth and shaped around the teeth by biting down. While boil-and-bite mouthguards offer a better fit than stock mouthguards, they still lack the precision of custom-made ones.
c. Custom-Made Mouthguards: These mouthguards are fabricated by dental professionals based on an individual's dental impression. Custom-made mouthguards offer the best fit, comfort, and protection, as they are specifically designed to suit each patient's unique oral structure. Although they can be more expensive, they are highly recommended for individuals with bruxism.
5. Concerns Regarding Wearing a Mouthguard While Sleeping
While wearing a mouthguard can provide numerous benefits, there are a few concerns that should be addressed before making a decision. Some individuals find it uncomfortable to sleep with a foreign object in their mouth, and it might take time to adjust. Additionally, individuals with respiratory conditions, such as sleep apnea, should consult their physician or dentist before using a mouthguard, as it could potentially worsen their symptoms.
In conclusion, wearing a mouthguard while sleeping can be a helpful solution for individuals suffering from bruxism. It provides protection against teeth grinding, reduces jaw pain, and promotes better sleep quality. While there may be some initial discomfort, the benefits outweigh the concerns for most people. Choosing the right type of mouthguard, such as custom-made ones, plays a significant role in ensuring comfort and effectiveness. If you are struggling with bruxism, consult your dentist to explore the best mouthguard option that suits your needs.