If you grind your teeth at night, wearing a mouth guard is a good idea -- especially if you've recently had cosmetic dental work done. The guard will prevent your teeth from rubbing together so you don't suffer so much enamel damage or have to worry about chipped teeth or veneers. But there are some intricacies to wearing a nighttime mouthguard. Follow these dos and don'ts to ensure the practice does not cause more harm than good.
Do: Get a customized mouth guard made.
The mouth guards at the pharmacy might be okay to wear now and then for some protection while you play sports. But they're not intended for long-term nighttime wear. They might put pressure on the wrong areas, slowly shifting your teeth out of place of leading to jaw pain. Instead, have your dentist custom-make you a mouth guard so you know it fits properly and is intended for long-term use.
Don't: Expect to adapt to the mouth guard immediately.
If you put the mouth guard into your mouth and have trouble sleeping the first night, don't give up. It's normal for it to take a few nights -- or even a week or more -- to get used to the mouth guard. Try wearing the guard for the first time on a night when you're really tired so you're more likely to doze off in spite of it.
Do: Wash the mouth guard after every use.
Putting a dirty mouth guard into your mouth is asking for trouble. The mouth guard probably contains bacteria that can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay. Instead, get into the habit of rinsing your mouth guard off with some antiseptic mouthwash each morning when you get up and remove it. This should kill bacteria and prevent odors. Every few days, you can even brush it with some toothpaste and a toothbrush for a more thorough cleaning.
Don't: Keep using a mouth guard that's causing you pain.
If you wake up with jaw aches or other discomfort after wearing a mouth guard, talk to your dentist. There's a chance the guard was not made properly for your jaw. Continuing to wear it could cause more serious damage, so you should have your dentist check the fit and perhaps make you a new one.
If you grind your teeth or clench your jaw at night, it's very important to wear a mouth guard to prevent more serious problems like TMJ pain and fractured molars. Talk to a dentist or cosmetic dentist in your area to learn more or to have a mouth guard custom-made.