Mouthguards while participating in sports are a necessary piece of equipment. Sports guards are a removable dental appliance that guards and covers your teeth. These are designed to protect the teeth when engaging in high-contact sports activities in case of any impacts to the face, mouth, and/or teeth.
While custom-fitted sports guards are more expensive than off-the-shelf varieties, they provide better comfort and protection.
The ADA recommends wearing a sports mouthguard while participating in the following:
- Equestrian events
- Extreme sports
- Field hockey
- Ice hockey
- Inline skating
- Martial arts
- Shot putting
- Water polo
Nightguards, or occlusal guards, are designed to minimize the effects of bruxism (grinding teeth) and other jaw alignment problems. These guards protect you from wearing down, chipping, and compromising your teeth while you are sleeping.
Factors and Signs That You May Need a Nightguard
- Waking with a sore jaw – A tell-tale-sign you have been clenching or grinding your jaw for an extended period of time.
- Chipped tooth – Clenching and grinding your teeth can compromise the strength of your teeth, making them easier to crack or chip. Not only will a chipped tooth require dental care, and the cost associated with it, but it can be a sign that your teeth grinding is getting worse.
- Waking with a headache – Do you wake up with a headache every morning? It could be the result of nightly clenching and grinding. While a nightguard will not eliminate teeth grinding, it will help minimize the effects.
- You have Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) – TMJ happens when the muscles around the jaw become inflamed, which can happen as a result of clenching and grinding your teeth. If you have been diagnosed with TMJ, ask your dentist about a night guard to help reduce pain associated with TMJ.
- You take antidepressants – A study published in the February 2012 issue of Clinics found that paroxetine, the main ingredient in some antidepressants, can cause nightly teeth clenching and grinding.
Tips to Stop or Minimize Nighttime Teeth Grinding
- Limit your caffeine intake – This includes coffee, cola and chocolate among others.
- Avoid alcohol – Clenching your jaw and grinding teeth tends to increase after alcohol consumption.
- Do not chew on anything that is not food and avoid chewing gum – Pencils, pens, nails, gum, etc. Chewing these things allows your jaw muscles to habitually clench and therefore increases your likelihood to grind.
- Relax your jaw muscles at night with a warm washcloth – Place a warm washcloth, rag, or pad against your cheek/front of your earlobe to help relax tense jaw muscles.
- Train yourself to not clench or grind – This may seem like an impossible task, but it can be done. If ever you notice yourself clenching or grinding during the day, position the tip your tongue between your teeth. This action trains your jaw muscles to relax.