Jaw pain at night can be debilitating. The pain can present in the jaw or in other places, such as the forehead, much like a sinus headache. Often it can be hard to determine what is causing the pain, since it feels like something else! Luckily, there are methods to reduce or even eliminate pain caused by clenching your teeth at night.
Your first thought might be to go to the pharmacy and pick up one of the generic, over-the-counter, mouth guards. There are some drawbacks to this approach:
- Generic mouth guards are not fitted to your teeth. The mouthguard can shift around and become dislodged during sleep.
- Unfitted mouth guards can actually become lodged in the throat, in rare cases, causing obstruction of breathing.
- Over-the-counter mouth guards can be uncomfortable and inhibit getting to sleep or getting good sleep.
Still, an over-the-counter solution can reduce pain from clenching and be a good, temporary, fix until you have a chance for a more long-term solution.
Custom Mouth Guards
The best solution is to have a mouth guard that is fitted correctly to your mouth. A custom mouth guard is usually made by a dentist, like those at Adams Dental Center. The custom mouth guard takes longer to make and often involves a significant investment since it is custom-made. The custom mouth guard fits your exact bite, is not easily dislodged, and is the most effective method to keep you from clenching your teeth.
Typically, a custom mouth guard is made during two visits. The first visit allows your dentist to take molds of your teeth to ensure a proper fit. The molds are sent off to a lab where the mouth guard is made. The finished product is sent back to your dentist.
Your second visit is to fit the mouth guard and learn how to take care of it so it lasts. Your dentist can make minor adjustments, such as filing down sharp edges or heating and bending the device to get the best fit.
In some cases, you can go directly to the manufacturing source instead of going through a dentist. This can be a good alternative if cost is an issue, as custom mouth guards can be expensive. On the plus side, you get a mouth guard that is fitted to your mouth. On the negative side, you lose out on the advice, the regular checks of the device by your dentist, and the ability to have it custom fitted during that second dentist visit.
Jaw pain should not be ignored. Over time, it can build up and cause more lasting damage to jaw joints and affect your quality of life. Mouth guards are the best way to address the pain, with a custom mouth guard providing the most long-term solution.