Benton & Nelson DDS

Do I Really Need a Night Guard?

March 25, 2021
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Posted By: Blake Nelson

What is a night guard?

A night guard is a clear appliance that is worn during sleep for multiple benefits:

  • Stops tooth grinding
  • Prevents tooth wear and fractures from grinding 
  • Reduces symptoms of TMD or temporomandibular joint dysfunction
  • Alleviates morning headaches
  • Prevents shifting of teeth or crowding

How do I know if I grind my teeth?

Some people are aware that they grind their teeth because they grind when they are bored or frustrated, such as sitting in traffic or at a stressful work meeting.  Most people, however, are not aware that they grind their teeth because they do it while asleep.  Signs that you could be grinding during sleep include waking up with a sore jaw or headache, wear or shortening of your teeth, or your bed partner stating he/she can hear you clenching and moving your jaw in the nighttime.  

Why do I need a night guard if I grind my teeth at night?

Dr. Nelson likes to use a car analogy to illustrate how grinding is not ideal for teeth: it’s like putting extra mileage on your car that you didn’t need to drive.  Grinding puts additional stress on teeth that can lead to fractures and cracks.  Additionally, it causes the front teeth to become flatter and shorter over time.   When wearing a night guard, this stress from grinding is applied to the acrylic appliance rather than to your teeth and prevents these negative side effects.  

How could a night guard help reduce my symptoms of TMD?

If you experience temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD), then grinding at the nighttime could be exasperating your symptoms.  A night guard will favorably position your jaw joint during the evening and prevent any forceful grinding, allowing your jaw and surrounding muscles to relax in the evening and reduce TMD symptoms.  

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