Mouth-guards : Do they reduce adverse effects of Bruxism?

Image shows a patient of bruxism (teethgrinding) wearing a mouthgaurd or occlusal splint. Mouthguards protect  teeth from excessive forces generated by bruxism.
Mouthguards protect teeth from excessive forces generated by bruxism.

Mouthguards are the first line of treatment for tooth grinding or bruxism. Today, we’ll go over everything there is to know about them in order to answer your queries.

Article’s content

  • What are mouthguards ?
  • How do mouthguards reduce the adverse effects of teethgrinding (bruxism) ?
  • What changes occur after using them ?
  • How or where to get mouthguards ?
  • Are they a definitive solution for bruxism ?

What are mouthguards ?

Mouth-guards are known by names like occlusal splints or night guards. The name night guard is derived from its usage in patients of night bruxism (grinding while sleeping).

These are removable dental appliances that covers the occlusal tooth surfaces (chewing surfaces) and are worn in the upper jaw (maxilla) or lower jaw (mandible) to prevent tooth wear.

How do they reduce the adverse effects of teethgrinding (bruxism) ?

Image shows person asking about how mouthguards work. Mouthguards create a space between upper and lower teeth, thus they don’t grind against one another.
Mouthguards create a space between upper and lower teeth, thus they don’t grind against one another.

Mouthguards are appliances worn on teeth of either upper jaw or on lower jaw. They form an protecting layer between the opposing teeth preventing them from coming together and scraping against one another. Thus, the flattening of teeth becomes less and instead the mouthguard is worn out by the teeth.

What changes occur after using them ?

Specifically, the following bruxism symptoms are reduced when a mouthguard is worn:

Image shows a confident and happier girl after usage of mouthguards as they reduce the pain caused by bruxism ( teethgrinding )
As pain subsides after usage of mouthguards you will feel happier and confident.
  1. Tooth wear : As discussed above they decrease tooth wear. Hence, sensitivity does not occur as badly as it does in case of non users of mouthguard. Also, chances of fracture of teeth from excessive forces of bruxism decrease drastically.
  2. Headache and morning fatigue : Muscular pain and headache intensity both gradually diminish. Additionally, TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain subsides. This lessens the joint’s clicking noises.
  3. Quality of life : Overall, post usage of mouthguard you will feel less pain which will help your productivity.

The essential thing is to get used to wearing the device regularly because occasional use has little effect.

How or where to get mouthguards ?

You can find stock mouthguards as over the counter appliances. However, they are not made to fit all our teeth and mouth. Thus, they are bulky and uncomfortable while being the least protective in nature.

The other kind available are the custom fabricated mouthguards, which you dentist will make to fit your teeth perfectly as per impressions (measurements) of your teeth. This fit better, are comfortable and are the best choice available out there.

Are they a definitive solution for bruxism ?

Occlusal splints/nightguards/mouthguards are not a definitive solutiom for bruxism. They just decrease the symptoms of bruxism and protect the teeth and gums from the excessive forces generated. Hence, splints are basically protective in nature and do not cure bruxism.

Image shows a warning that you should Consult your dentist before choosing between stock and custom made mouthguards.
Consult your dentist before choosing between stock and custom made mouthguards.

You need to get professional medical care to identify the cause of bruxism and cure this cause to stop bruxism.

Moreover, getting custom made moutguards are costly and if excessive forces break them you need to get a new one.

So, mouthguards are great appliances to reduce the symptoms but they are not a cure for bruxism.

Conclusion

Scientific studies have found that mouthguard/occlusal splint/nightguard are not perfectly effective treatment options. They need to be combined with other treatments like muscle relaxing medication and physiotherapy to eliminate pain.

Hence, if you grind your teeth, then have a in-depth, meaningful discussion with your dentist about the pros and cons of mouthguards before using them.

References

Macedo CR, Silva AB, Machado MA, Saconato H, Prado GF. Occlusal splints for treating sleep bruxism (tooth grinding). Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Oct 17;2007(4):CD005514. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005514.pub2. PMID: 17943862; PMCID: PMC8890597.

Cochrane Review ID,Author(s),Title,Source,Year,Abstract,Issue,Publisher,ISSN,Keywords,DOI,URL,Cochrane Review Group Code
"CD005514.PUB2","Macedo, CR; Silva, AB; Machado, MAC; Saconato, H; Prado, GF","Occlusal splints for treating sleep bruxism (tooth grinding)","Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews","2007",,"4","John Wiley & Sons, Ltd","1465-1858","*Occlusal Splints; Humans; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Sleep Bruxism [*therapy]","10.1002/14651858.CD005514.pub2","https://doi.org//10.1002/14651858.CD005514.pub2","Oral Health"

Leave a Reply