I had dinner recently with a male friend who can be best described as a worry wort. Hey, let’s call him that. Nearing 40, he’s a new dad, works in finance, and seems to be always stressed out – go figure, right? As per usual, I was expecting to be his sounding board for everything that was going wrong in his life (work, adjusting to babyhood, yada yada yada), but to my surprise, he could not stop nattering on about the positive benefits he’s gotten from wearing a mouth guard for the past six months. “I don’t wake up feeling sore, and it doesn’t hurt to chew food. My headaches and sore muscles are gone too. Oh and I’m getting much better sleep!” I was intrigued and so happy to see him finally at ease, so the next morning, I sent him an email to get more information about it.
ME: What made you decide on getting a mouth guard?
Worry Wort: I was getting a sore neck and also feeling pressure along the base of my skull, so naturally I was worried enough to make an appointment with my doctor. He could tell immediately by looking at my masader muscles that I was grinding and asked me what I was stressed out about.
Worry Wort: I went and got fitted by my dentist, Dr Phillip Tzemis, and it arrived a few weeks later. When I picked it up he told me the symptoms would be gone in a few days and I didn’t believe him. Sure enough within a week I was back to normal.
I then contacted his dentist to get the skinY on mouth guards…
ME: Who is a good candidate for a mouth guard?
Dr Phillip Tzemis: A mouth guard is a custom made oral appliance prescribed by the dentist to treat TMD (temporal mandibular dysfunction) or to protect the teeth and gums from parafunctioning (teeth grinding). Individuals diagnosed with either of these conditions would be a good candidate.
ME: How long does someone need to wear one for and how much does it cost?
Dr Phillip Tzemis: Wearing time will depend on the treatment protocol. In treating TMD, an individual would wear the appliance or a series of appliances in order to address the symptoms; usually pain and restricted mobilty of the jaw. This could take months or even years. Individuals who are chronic tooth grinders may wear their appliance for many years as well. Costs, as do the treatment modalities vary tremendously. They range from hundreds of dollars and up. Your dentist will be able to provide you with the exact cost of the treatment specific to you.
ME: Are there any anti-aging benefits to wearing one?
Dr Phillip Tzemis: That’s a great question. The benefits are both indirect and direct. Many individuals suffering from TMD are constantly in pain; sometimes debilitating in nature. This affects their posture, their facial expressions and of course their energy. Some of them are depressed and become withdrawn from social interaction. They look older beyond their years. By successfully treating the symptoms, I have seen individuals almost rejuvenated in their physical appearance and their life energy. The direct benefit which is realized by individuals who grind their teeth heavily are that their teeth are not worn down or continually chipping. Worn chipped teeth are signs of an aging or an unattractive smile. By preventing further wear or even restoring worn/chipped teeth a person’s smile often looks younger and healthier.
ME: I’ve heard of some women putting whitening gels into their mouth guards. Is this safe?
Dr Phillip Tzemis: Teeth bleaching trays which are made for home bleaching systems have a very specific design in order to maximize the bleaching effect. Mouth guards are constructed for a different purpose and therefore may not provide appropriate coverage of the teeth. To get the best results I recommend that proper bleaching trays be made and used according to your dentist’s directions. This will ensure the maximum bleaching result for the individual.
Have you ever used a mouth guard?