Your jaw is capable of exerting a tremendous amount of force, up to 1200 pounds of pressure! That’s pretty amazing, right? But when you clench or grind your teeth, that is bad news. And since most clenching and grinding is done at night while you are asleep, you may be unaware of it, and since you are not conscious you are unable to do anything about it unless you take precautions while you are awake. A few common problems that can arise from clenching and grinding (also called bruxism) can include:
-Chipped, cracked, or broken teeth
-Wearing down of the enamel, resulting in a shortening of the teeth over time and/or flat teeth
-Broken restorations (failed fillings, crowns or veneers falling off, broken bonding)
-Loose or sensitive teeth
-Toothache from bruised teeth, injury deep into the tooth root where the nerves are
-Grinding, clanking, or clicking sounds during sleep heard by sleep partner, jaw movement seen by sleep partner
-Jaw joint problems, TMD (temporomandibular disorders)
-Headache, ear aches, facial pain
Indications that you are grinding your teeth can include any of the above problems and more.
Wearing a bite guard can resolve many of the issues caused by bruxism and clenching. Instead of teeth-on-teeth friction, with two hard surfaces grinding against each other, wearing a bite guard places a protective layer of plastic in between. A bite guard is designed to take the force of the jaw, distribute it, and absorb much of it, providing protection for your teeth and taking the load off the jaw and surrounding areas.
Wearing a bite guard is an essential part of taking care of your teeth. Much bruxism is caused by stress, so finding ways to relax and handle the stresses of life may also help reduce the problem. Clenching and grinding is very, very common since most people have lives that include a fair amount of stress in our modern hectic world. And it’s a good idea to mention that while most people usually clench and grind at night, some people do so during the day as well, so bite guards can be worn during the day. Some people do in fact need that.
At Mall of Georgia Dentistry, Dr. Vancil will inspect your teeth and examine your jaw for any signs of clenching and grinding and discuss your bite guard options with you. Wearing a bite guard doesn’t only protect your teeth… since it can help reduce your chances of dental injury or jaw distress, it might also save you time and money by preventing the need for expensive dental restorations and improving your quality of life… and that’s something to smile about!