You’ve discovered that you’re a night bruxer. In other words, you clench and grind your teeth at night while you sleep. Your regular dentist is offering to give you a night guard to protect your teeth from future damage.
It seems like a good idea to take it, but before you do, there are some questions you should ask your dentist.
What training do you have in using night guards?
All dentists receive at least passing training in the use of night guards. But if your dentist hasn’t sought out additional training, it may be very basic, and it may have been years ago.
Whenever your dentist is offering to do something outside the usual practice, it’s a good idea to check how well the dentist is trained in that procedure. You know they can do a filling or a crown, but maybe they’re not the best choice for this procedure if they aren’t properly trained in it.
How much experience do you have with night guards?
In addition to training, a dentist’s experience matters. A dentist who regularly and successfully makes night guards for their patients is well-equipped to make one for you.
Never just take a dentist’s word for it–ask to see cases where they did the night guard. It’s even a good idea to ask to speak to a previous patient. A dentist who gets great results for patients will have many who are happy to speak about their results.
Will this night guard treat my condition or will it just protect my teeth?
There are many different kinds of night guards. Some of them are protective–their function is to keep your teeth from being damaged. Others are therapeutic–their function is to address the reason why you clench and grind your teeth at night by helping to hold your jaw in a healthy, relaxed position. This makes your muscles less likely to spasm and clench.
A dentist should have the training and equipment to test you for TMJ before giving you a nightguard. If they don’t, it’s possible the nightguard could protect your teeth at the expense of your jaw.
Should I get tested for sleep apnea?
If you are clenching and grinding at night, you need to consider the possibility that you might not just have a jaw problem: you might have an airway problem. You might be clenching your teeth to provide more support to the soft tissue of your airway. If your airway collapses at night, it cuts off your breathing, which lowers the oxygen level in the brain and forces you to awaken partially to resume breathing. This is called sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea will keep you from getting restful sleep overnight and lead to serious health complications, such as heart problems, disrupted metabolism, and mental disorders. Your dentist should be able to recommend a sleep test. They should also be able to offer treatment if the test reveals you have sleep apnea.
Should I repair my damaged teeth?
If your teeth have been damaged by clenching and grinding, it may not be enough to protect them from future damage. You might have to repair the damage that’s already been done. Your dentist should be able to evaluate your teeth to see if they need to be repaired.
You should also mention any symptoms you experience, including tooth sensitivity to pressure, temperature, or sweets.
We Provide Therapeutic Nightguards
If you are looking for a dentist who has exceptional training and experience in designing mouthguards, then you are looking for Dr. Kevin Berry. He has decades of experience helping people overcome the challenges of night bruxism to protect their teeth and their jaws. He knows how to protect your teeth and provide long-term relief from jaw pain, headaches, and other TMJ symptoms.
To learn how he can help you, please call (303) 691-0267 today for an appointment at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado in Denver.