Teeth grinding — it sounds awful. Unfortunately, many people do it without even recognizing the damage they cause to their teeth. Unless their teeth grinding disturbs someone they sleep with or their dentist sees signs of wear on the dental enamel, bruxism (the technical term for the problem) can go unnoticed. We’re not sure why people do it, and there are multiple potential causes, but it is a serious issue. Without treatment, bruxism can actually wear away enamel, crack teeth and ruin dental restorations like implants or bridges.
Some of our Sacramento dental patients grind their teeth with chewing motions, others clench them tightly together. The worst sufferers clench and grind their teeth. All of this wasted effort and muscular contraction causes significant stress to the temporomandibular joint, and the muscles of the neck and head. That leads to headaches and jaw pain that are usually present when you wake up, at the end of your day, or both. If the pain is present in the morning, you likely grind your teeth at night. If you have pain at the end of the day, you may be clenching your teeth during the day. If you have pain at both times, you are one of the unfortunate 24/7 sufferers of bruxism.
Treatment for Bruxism
There are different ways to treat bruxism, depending on the likely cause. Orthodontics might be tried to alter the bite. A more extreme step can be oral surgery. Usually, easier methods are tried first, such as a specifically-designed splint that prevents the grinding. We can also provide the patient with a dental guard.
If you have played in contact sports, you are already familiar with the idea of a “mouthguard.” Form fitting plastic fits over your upper or lower arch and protects the teeth from touching each other. Dental guards made by the Marconi Dental Group are crafted right here in our own dental lab by our veteran technician, based on a mold of your teeth. Some patients report that simply wearing the “nightguard” stops the negative effects of their bruxism completely.
For patients who clench their teeth during the day, Dr. Alizadeh can help them “unlearn” their clenching behaviors. This would be done in addition to using a mouthguard or “functional splint” during the day. Made out of clear plastic, they are hard to notice. Since they fit very well, you quickly learn to speak normally even when you’re wearing one.
If your significant other or coworkers have told you that you grind or clench your teeth, schedule an appointment with Sacramento’s Marconi Dental Group. If we see the usual damage caused by bruxism, please realize that teeth grinding and clenching does not “go away” and will cause serious dental problems. A dental guard and treatment successfully lessens the effects and can possibly cure this dangerous habit.