Dr. William Lanza is a premier dentist in Bethesda, Maryland, and below he shares what he’s learned about bruxism and night guards in his professional career, which spans decades of exceptional dentistry.
Bruxism, or teeth grinding as it’s more commonly referred to, affects around 13% of adults today either while they’re awake or sleeping. Bethesda-based dentist Dr. William Lanza has helped many of his patients overcome bruxism, which can cause serious lasting damage since consistent clenching and grinding can wear down teeth and the protective coating around them.
“It’s an extremely common habit of many adults, though it does appear in children, too,” says Dr. William Lanza. “And while the threat on the surface can seem minimal, it can be detrimental to their overall oral health. Some patients aren’t even aware they grind their teeth until a dentist picks up on it during checkups.”
When people grind their teeth or experience repetitive jaw muscle activity, it’s typically a common side effect of stress. Teeth grinding can occur consciously, such as during bouts of stress during the day at work, home, or in any aspect of life. It can also be an automatic response to stressful thoughts or feelings when we go to sleep, which seems a lot harder to prevent. However, Dr. William Lanza tells us that night guards are an exceptional solution as they aren’t uncomfortable to wear, aren’t expensive to purchase, and thoroughly protect patients’ teeth and jaws throughout the night.
“Patients who grind their teeth at night usually wake up with sore jaws, slight headaches or tooth pain,” says Dr. William Lanza. “This can mess up their teeth alignment and crack or chip their teeth, allowing bacteria to settle in dangerous places. Even if they aren’t sure they’re grinding their teeth, patients waking with these symptoms on occasion should seek out the advice of professionals who can recommend quality night guards or other solutions.”
Mouthguards are easy to find and purchase, and they are just as safe for children who grind their teeth as they are for adults. Night guards sit in the mouth comfortably like retainers (without rearranging teeth) and act as a barrier around the patient’s teeth. Moving the jaw is limited because of the amount of space night guards take up and teeth grinding is halted as the guards prevent teeth from ever touching.
“Without night guards, patients who grind their teeth are likely to experience sensitivity, receive chips or cracks in their teeth, or even expose the highly-sensitive roots underneath,” says Dr. William Lanza. “Night guards are an easy and painless fix to these problems that won’t cost patients much.”