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A mouth guard is a device that fits over your teeth with the intent of reducing tooth wear, muscle pain and soreness and jaw joint pain and instability.

They can also be used to discourage habitual behaviours many patients don’t realise they have such as clenching & grinding. These appliances can be worn at night or during the day.

Bruxism, the medical term for grinding your teeth, affects about 8 percent of adults, according to the National Sleep Foundation. From the occasional sore jaw to chronic grinding, it can be a serious problem. Whether the grinding is new or a lifelong habit, it’s often difficult to tell whether it’s a mere annoyance or a serious problem. If you experience one of the following, it may be time to visit your dentist to talk about a mouth guard for teeth grinding.

You chip a tooth

Not only will a chipped tooth require dental care for repair, but it can also be a sign that your teeth grinding has become more serious. As you touch your teeth together and grind back and forth, you can put a lot of pressure on the enamel — in your sleep, no less — that you could actually damage your teeth. This can be expensive to fix and can even lead to cavities, so it’s best to talk to your dentist about a mouth guard before you chip more teeth.

You have chronic grinding

Some people grind periodically because of temporary issues, such as stress at work. If your bruxism is chronic, meaning you grind most nights, it’s probably best to see your dentist about a mouth guard for teeth grinding. While it won’t stop the actual clenching of your jaw, a mouth guard can minimize the negative effects on your teeth if you’re grinding every night.

You wake up with a headache

Do you feel as though you have a raging headache every morning? It could be the result of nightly grinding. A mouth guard won’t stop you from grinding altogether, but it may help. Talk to your dentist about what options are available to you. MedlinePlus suggests relaxation exercises to help you wind down at night so that you’ll be less likely to grind. Your dentist can suggest other ways to minimize teeth grinding.