Clenching and grinding can damage the teeth. When your teeth don’t fit together properly and/or the two small joints in front of your ears (TMJ joints) don’t function smoothly, pain and pressure results. You may experience migraine headaches or unexplained facial, neck, shoulder, or jaw pain. Tooth wear, teeth grinding, and chronic earaches are also common problems caused by temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
The dentist thoroughly evaluates each individual before coming up with options for a treatment plan. There are various therapies available including moist heat, muscle massage, physical therapy, food modification, bite adjustments, mouth guards and relaxation techniques. After the evaluation, the dentist will decide on one or a combination of these therapies in an effort to get the patient out of pain and on the road to recovery.
One therapy commonly prescribed is the use of a hard night guard. This is used for patients who have a tendency to clench or grind their teeth (bruxism). The guard helps stop damage to the teeth and jaw joints by providing a barrier in which the opposing jaw can glide instead of locking teeth together. It is custom fit and made at a dental laboratory. Hard night guards require only two quick appointments and can be a key factor in preventing damage to the delicate jaw joints and teeth giving patients a more restful and relaxing night of sleep.