Your Raleigh dentist may have recently suggested that you start using a nightguard after examining your teeth, especially if you’ve been clinching or grinding your teeth at night. Maybe you’ve had a stressful year (who didn’t?) or it’s possible that you didn’t realize you were grinding at night. Either way, grinding your teeth, also known as bruxism can create painful long-term consequences for those who suffer from it. Not only will grinding your teeth make your teeth become flat and unattractive, but they can become quite sensitive, loosen or even break into pieces. Left untreated, grinding or clinching can cause you to experience spasms or tenderness in your muscles, as well as head and neck aches. A nightguard is an effective treatment to protect your teeth from long-term damage, as long as you properly care for it. With that in mind, today we’ll discuss how to properly care for your nightguard.
What is a nightguard?
A nightguard is a removable dental appliance worn while you sleep to protect your teeth and jaws from the damage caused by grinding or clinching your teeth. The treatment itself doesn’t necessarily cure bruxism, but it can greatly reduce the harmful effects of teeth grinding as long as you properly care for your nightguard.
Typically, if your Raleigh dentist has recommended that you start using a nightguard, you have the option of three different styles.
- Ready-made, over-the-counter nightguards that come in a standard size
- Boil-and-bite nightguards that offer a DIY approach to customization
- Custom dental nightguards created by your dentist
If you choose to have a custom nightguard made by your dentist, she will need to make an impression of your teeth. A negative copy of the upper and lower teeth is created, so that a plaster cast or mold can be made from it. A nightguard is then fabricated from the cast.
Whichever style you choose is ultimately up to you. It’s more important that you consistently wear one at night and that you properly care for your nightguard. With that in mind, follow these 3 steps to care for your nightguard.
1. Rinse Your Nightguard Every Morning
As a general rule of thumb, you should always rinse your nightguard immediately after wearing it. You should do so with warm water to remove debris and loosen any plaque that may have built up on your nightguard overnight.
2. Clean Your Nightguard
Once you’ve rinsed your nightguard, make sure you brush it with your toothbrush (or a separate one if you prefer). Toothpaste is not necessary. In fact, since toothpaste is abrasive (so that it can remove plaque from your teeth), using toothpaste to clean your nightguard may cause you to need a replacement guard sooner.
3. Make sure your nightguard is completely dry
Most nightguards have a storage case. Before placing your nightguard in its case (after you’ve rinsed and cleaned it), make sure that it is completely dry. Storing your nightguard with any moisture present will allow bacteria to rapidly grow, and we don’t know of anyone who wants to put a bacteria-infested nightguard in their mouth (at least, not willingly). That said, don’t dry your nightguard with a towel or washcloth. Simply leave it out to dry on a clean surface for roughly 15-30 minutes.
Grinding your teeth doesn’t have to affect your life long-term. If you’re interested in having a custom nightguard made, schedule an appointment with Dr. Katherine E Garrett. Or if you’re looking for a new Raleigh dentist, we’d love to provide dental care for your entire family and new patients are always welcome. Don’t wait until you have a dental emergency, call our office today!