Teeth grinding is extremely common, most people are not even aware that they do it, especially when it occurs at night while sleeping. This tooth girding, called bruxism, can cause:
Problems opening and closing the jaw
Earaches (deferred pain)
Permanent damage to the teeth from excessive enamel wear
… to name a few!
Severe bruxism can be more damaging than cavities, wearing down the tooth enamel leaving and molars flat and weakened and grinding incisors down to stumps. If enamel is severely worn, it exposes dentin to more bacterial decay as well.
Although custom-made night guard can run you a pretty penny, it is easily worth it in terms of the resulting savings on treating various dental, TMJ, and other disorders and discomforts that bruxism can cause. In addition preventing the need for future treatment as a money-saving move in the long run, not developing headaches, damaged teeth, and jaw disorders maintains a higher quality of life overall.
Even an affordable over-the-counter night guard can help significantly- keeping the surfaces from touching with a physical barrier and preventing the damage teeth do to each other as they grind- but there can still be problems caused by the force of the clenching itself. That’s why of some of the costly medical models that you can get from a dentist office are often recommended… certain types are designed to actually inhibit any clenching by acting on the muscular reflexes. These are great to be worn even during the day by those who tend to clench their teeth while stressed, focused, or exerting force (sitting in bad traffic, taking a test, working out at the gym). Treating and managing stress and anxiety is also a good idea and can reduce the occurrence of bruxism in some people.
Please feel free to talk to us about this at your next visit if you have questions or concerns. Exams at Mall of Georgia Dentistry easily detect signs of bruxism in patients, and Dr. Vancil can recommend the best course of action and most appropriate type of bite guard equipment to handle your specific situation. Many patients have already invested in a bite guard of their own and are enjoying the relief it provides from many of bruxism’s undesirable effects. We hope they’ll keep it up, and we hope you’ll join them if you’re a clincher or grinder!