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Nightguards / Biteguards

Augusta general and cosmetic dentist Dr. Rebecca Hobbs may recommend a dental nightguard if you have symptoms of teeth grinding and clenching (bruxism) or jaw joint pain (TMJ).

Dental bruxism has been found to have a number of related causes. Bruxism typically occurs during sleep although it can occur when the patient is fully awake.

Often patients are not aware that they are grinding or clenching their teeth until they have jaw soreness or teeth sensitivity.

Common signs and symptoms of bruxism:

  • Sore jaw joints, especially when waking up
  • Headaches, noticeably at the temples above the jaw joints
  • Teeth sensitivity or pain
  • Fractured teeth or worn, chipped or flattened teeth surfaces
  • Inflammation of gum tissue
  • Observation of patient grinding teeth noisily during sleep
  • Clenching teeth as a response to stress

The treatment goals of managing bruxism:

  1. Protect the teeth
  2. Address the underlying cause

For a complete diagnosis, Dr. Hobbs will examine the teeth, jaw joints and gums closely, assisted by necessary digital x-rays and bite measurement tests. We may create study models of your teeth to evaluate how your bite comes together.

Dr. Hobbs may recommend that the patient wear a hard plastic nightguard (or biteguard).

dental bite guard

A dental nightguard is made of thick plastic and is custom-fitted to either the upper or lower arch.

Each patient is different; nightguards can discourage teeth grinding for some, while others will persist and need the added layer of protection that the nightguard provides. Dr. Hobbs will check your nightguard to make sure it fits properly and adjust it as she determines which teeth are receiving the most wear.

Because each individual's needs are so specific, we do not recommend over-the-counter nightguards. The nightguard itself is a single component of the treatment for bruxism; it is important that Dr. Hobbs is able to monitor results and adjust your treatment plan as needed.

What causes bruxism?

Bruxism has a number of related causes and is often a combination of factors. Some of the most common associated bruxism causes include:

  • Stress - Not surprisingly, grinding and clenching the teeth is a common response to stress.
  • Sleep Apnea and Snoring - studies show that the patient may grind their teeth while attempting to adjust their jaw and teeth to breathe normally.
  • Heredity - Some patients grind and clench their teeth because of the size, shape and arrangement of their jaw joints and teeth.
  • Medications, tobacco and caffeine - Caffeine and nicotine stimulants, along with some medications, may trigger overly active body responses, including teeth grinding and clenching.
  • TMJ (temporomandibular joint) problems or TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) - Inflamed jaw joints may be linked to teeth grinding as the patient tries to find a comfortable bite position.

Problems connected to bruxism:

The challenge of bruxism is that it may seem to be just a nuisance habit until a serious problem develops. Chronic teeth grinding and clenching can actually cause teeth to eventually crack and break to the point that they have to be removed. The additional stress from bruxism on the jaw joints can also create a cycle of pain that may require medication to treat if not addressed early.

Sports Mouthguards

While nightguards and sportsguards have many similarities, they are designed and fabricated to protect the teeth in different ways. We recommend that our patients wear mouthguards during sports activities in which there is a risk of contact or falling, such as football, hockey, soccer or skateboarding. Sports mouthguards are recommended for all age groups. Be sure to ask us about having a mouthguard made at your next dental hygiene visit.

Do you or your partner grind your teeth during sleep?
Have you noticed that your jaw joints are sore when you wake up?

Schedule a complete examination appointment in our Augusta dental office with Dr. Rebecca Hobbs and get the answers you need to keep your smile healthy. Contact Hobbs Dentistry