Also known as teeth grinding and clenching, bruxism is a very common condition. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests as many as 20 percent of adults suffer from this condition, and it can be very damaging if left untreated. To protect your teeth, your dentist may recommend a bruxism mouth guard.
How Bruxism Damages Your Teeth
When you regularly clench and grind your teeth, you subject them to levels of force that can reach the equivalent of more than 500 pounds (226 kilograms) per square inch (psi), according to Dentistry Today. For the sake of comparison, a force of about 28 psi is exerted when chewing a raw carrot.
As your teeth aren't meant to handle the forces bruxism can generate, you could end up with worn or cracked enamel, which in turn leads to tooth sensitivity. x Keep in mind that these forces can also damage restorations, bridges or dental implants.
How the Guard Is Made
Getting your new mouth guard is a simple procedure. Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth and send the resulting mould to a dental laboratory. This facility will create a custom-fitted acrylic mouth guard based on your impression; once it's ready, the guard will be returned to your dentist so that you can try it on. Your dentist will check the fit of the mouth guard and make any necessary adjustments before you take it home.
How Well Do They Work?
Although well-fitting mouth guards reduce the effects of clenching and grinding, they may not break the habit itself, explains the NIH. You may find that you still clench your teeth while wearing the mouth guard (which is OK, as it will protect them), or that you start clenching again when you remove it. If you damage the mouth guard by grinding your teeth against it, it may need to be replaced to keep working effectively.
Bruxism can cause serious damage to your teeth, so if you suspect you're clenching or grinding, see your dentist right away. He or she can provide you with a bruxism mouth guard to prevent the worn enamel and damaged restorations that often result from this habit.