Modern mouth guards have come a long way. Their humble origins can be traced back to the 1800s when they strictly made for boxers. Back then, they consisted of a sponge, a piece of wood and tape.
Today, they are more complex and come in different shapes, sizes, and colors.
The American Dental Association recommends its use in 29 different sports. However, their usefulness extends beyond the sporting realm. Here are some of the signs that you need to invest in a mouth guard.
Headaches in the Morning
Waking up with headaches in the morning is a sign that you are grinding your teeth at night. These headaches are caused by the intense stresses and strains caused by the rubbing teeth.
When grinding your teeth in your sleep, the muscles in the jaws also tighten leading to inflammation. Night guards are known to solve this problem. They are made from an impression of the individual’s teeth. They provide a cushioning layer between the teeth reducing the tension and stress. If left unresolved, the morning headaches can devolve to migraines.
The enamel covering your teeth is one of the hardest tissues in your body. However, like any other part, they can get damaged. The common causes of teeth chipping include dental cavities, the constant grinding of the teeth, biting on hard substances, and injuries from falls or accidents.
Chipped front teeth are easily visible but you can use your tongue to feel the back teeth. If a chipped tooth is left unprotected it could lead to an infection, swelling, and complete damage to the chipped tooth. A night guard will protect the teeth from further damage.
You Grind Your Teeth
Teeth grinding is a common problem that is experienced by 8% of adults worldwide. Chronic teeth grinding during sleep is a disorder known as bruxism. Although the individual with the disorder might not be aware, you can usually tell in the morning from the headache and the soreness in the jaws.
If you are not sure you can ask your spouse or partner. Teeth grinding is quite loud and can be quite annoying to the other person. The major cause of bruxism is stress and anxiety. A night guard adds a layer of protection thereby eliminating friction. It is a practical solution while you explore other options.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD)
This is a condition that causes soreness and inflammation of the jaws. The disorder is caused by clenching the teeth and jaws for an extended period. TMJD is a common disorder and affects an estimated 10 million Americans. Mouth guards reduce the discomfort associated with TMJD and prevent the condition from worsening.
You are on Antidepressants
Studies have shown that certain antidepressants cause teeth grinding. Paroxetine, a common ingredient in most antidepressants has been identified to be the culprit. If you are on any antidepressants you should ask your doctor about the risk of bruxism. You can request to switch to a different medication if you must.
Although paroxetine-induced bruxism is treatable, you are better off having a mouth guard to protect your teeth. This will give more time to focus on the medication and not the side effects.
Waking Up with Facial Soreness
In addition to the headaches, facial soreness is another indication that it’s time for a mouth guard. This is especially common with people with TMJD. As the jaws clench, the muscles and tendons on your face undergo a lot of stress. The built-up tension can cause soreness that can be felt in the morning.
Not all gum swellings are caused by gingivitis. Swollen gums may be an indication that you constantly clench your teeth. If extreme conditions, the swollen gums eventually begin to bleed. Teeth grinding sometimes cause the gums to recede. The recession opens up doors for germs and bacteria to attack the gums. A night guard releases the tension in the jaws and protects your gums.
Human jaws can generate a bite force of up to 1300 Newton – a testament to the strength of human jaws. When you clench your teeth, this entire force is concentrated in the enamel of the teeth.
Over time, the enamel begins to wear off leaving the rest of the teeth exposed. The absence of the enamel leaves the nerves exposed. The exposure of the nerves makes the teeth more sensitive to temperature, pressure, and acidity. The sensitivity can be felt when drinking or eating sweets, cold and hot acidic foods.
While mouth guards are now compulsory in all collision sports, they can still be used for everyday life. They reduce the possibility of chipping, breaking, or knocking out a tooth. The use of mouth guards also protects the lips, the tongue, and the cheeks from injuries during intense exercise. People wearing braces can also benefit from the use of night guards.
They prevent direct contact between the brackets and the cheeks reducing the chance of injury. They can also be used temporarily during dental procedures. If you notice any of the signs discussed here then you most probably need a mouth guard. However, you should consult the dentist before deciding to get one. A proper mouth guard should be customized to fit your mouth. Otherwise, it could make things worse by aggravating injuries. Hopefully, this article equips you to better identify the signs before it is too late. Prevention is and will always be better than cure.