pain management

What is bruxism and why do I need a night guard?

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is the forceful clenching and/or grinding of the teeth. In most people, bruxism is mild enough not to be a health problem; however, some people suffer from significant bruxism that can later become a problem. Bruxism often occurs during sleep and can even occur during short naps. Often, it can cause indentations in the teeth, wear of the biting surface and cracks in the teeth.

People who suffer from bruxism will sometimes grind their molars (back teeth) together, which usually is loud enough to wake a sleeping partner. Given enough time, dental damage will typically occur. Teeth grinding is the significant cause of tooth loss.

Most people are not aware of their involuntary teeth grinding, and some go on to develop symptoms such as jaw pain, ear pain and headaches. Unfortunately, there’s no known cure for bruxism. Ongoing management of bruxism is based on minimizing the abrasion of your tooth’s surfaces by the wearing of a custom fitted night guard, which is designed to the shape of your upper or lower teeth.


What is a nightguard?

A night guard is a custom appliance which prevents damage by  cushioning the teeth. Although a dental night guard can be purchased over-the-counter, some guards cannot be custom fitted and may not be as effective. Because the guard is not fit specifically for an individual’s mouth, it may also be uncomfortable.


How is a nightguard made?

The process to fabricate a custom fitted nightguard is fairly simple. Dr Scopu, will  take an impression of both your upper and lower set of teeth using an impression tray and a putty-like material. After the impressions are taken, our lab technician will pour liquid plaster into your impressions in an effort to make a mold of your teeth.  After the mold is made, a piece of acrylic or soft laminate is heated and air suctioned to form around each  tooth surface and crevice, thus the term custom fitted night guards.

For the dental night guard to help reduce problems associated with teeth grinding, it’s important to wear it every night. Some people may eventually stop grinding their teeth overtime and the device won’t be needed. Children especially tend to outgrow teeth grinding. To maintain the device, it should be cleaned every time it’s used by brushing it with toothpaste and rinsing completely.


TMJ pain relief with Laser

TMJ disorders cause tenderness and pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) — the joint on each side of your head, in front of your ears, where your lower jawbone meets your skull. This joint allows you to talk, chew and yawn.


Between 5 and 15 percent of people in the United States experience pain associated with TMJ disorders, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, part of the National Institutes of Health. Women are more likely than men to develop TMJ disorders.In most cases, pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders can be alleviated with self-managed care or nonsurgical treatments such as laser therapy.

Dr. Dara Rosenberg, DDS, Director, Department of Dentistry  St. Barnabus Hospital in the Bronx has performed multiple pilot studies with low level laser therapy using a BIOLASE diode laser for myofacial pain and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction on patients who have few treatment options left.  “Outcomes have been very positive over the years,” said Rosenberg. “These chronic conditions can now be managed non-invasively and non-pharmacologically. Our clinical experience with the laser has shown improvement in both pain relief and return to function. It has enabled patients who have been on medication for extended periods of time to reduce, and eliminate the medications and avoid surgical intervention. Because it is non-invasive, more practitioners should expand its use for the benefit of all patients.”

At DentAlign Studio Dr Scopu can use this laser technology to administer  20 minute  sessions to manage TMJ pain. Dr Scopu reccomentds 3-4 sessions every  2-3 days.


If you’d like more information, feel free to leave a comment or give us a call!Image