'I started experiencing a really sharp shooting pain' 

After finally having a mouth guard fitted, Karen Smith now feels in control of her bruxism.

"I think it was about five years ago that my dentist first told me I was grinding my teeth.

"During a routine check-up he said my teeth were worn down, especially the ones at the back. He then asked if I ever felt any tension in my jaw and asked me to open my mouth wide and close it again.

"I did feel some tension, but my teeth didn't hurt and I wasn't experiencing any other symptoms, so it didn't seem like much of a problem. I went away and didn't think about it much.

"At further check-ups my dentist always mentioned the grinding and told me about the possible risks to my teeth, including the fact that the grinding can weaken them and lead to cracks and loosening. He suggested getting a mouth guard, but as I still wasn't experiencing any symptoms, it didn't seem like a priority.

"I finally did something about it last year. I had wanted to get all my silver fillings replaced with nice white ones for a while and decided to treat myself to the dental work after getting a new job.

"After having the fillings done I started experiencing a really sharp shooting pain on the right-hand side of my jaw. After paying a lot of money for all the dental work to be done I didn't want anything to be wrong, so I went back to my dentist to check that everything was ok.

"My dentist was away, so I saw another dentist who told me the shooting pain was a consequence of an abnormal bite that had been made more prominent after the work on my fillings. It was probably making me grind my teeth more, which was leading to the shooting pain.

"The dentist recommended a mouth guard for my lower teeth, which would correct my bite and hopefully stop me grinding as well. I had a fitting for the mouth guard, which involved having a cast made of my teeth, and I got it a few days later. It was made out of a flexible rubber that absorbs the shock of clenching and grinding, and is also non-abrasive so it doesn't wear your teeth down.

"Wearing the mouth guard took a bit of getting used to. But I wore it every night for three weeks and, sure enough, the shooting pain went away."

Page last reviewed: 05/09/2014

Next review due: 05/05/2017