Bruxism is the technical term for grinding and clenching of teeth. People who grind and clench may also bite their fingernails, pencils, lips and cheeks. Indentations along the side of the tongue are another possible sign of bruxism. ABOUT ONE IN THREE PEOPLE SUFFER FROM BRUXISM, which can be easily treated by your dentist. Most people do not realize they have this destructive habit. Bruxing is the most destructive habit I encounter in people’s mouths.
Bruxers frequently clench so often and hard that over time their teeth become sensitive due to the thousands of pounds of pressure on the teeth. Bruxers experience jaw pain, muscle pain, earaches, headaches (especially in the morning), neck and upper back pain, broken teeth, as well as excessive wear of the teeth. Excessive pressure causes the jaw to become unbalanced, damaging the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
One common sign that you may have bruxism is the flattening of the normally pointed tips of your teeth. Teeth are worn down so much that the enamel is worn off, exposing the inner layer of tooth, called dentin. Dentin is a softer layer of tooth which is typically more sensitive and decay prone than enamel. Dentin wears 8 times faster than enamel, so the problems of wear accelerate once the dentin is exposed. Bruxers frequently experience popping, clicking, pain and locking up of the temporormandibular joint (TMJ).
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or think you may be clenching, Dr. Lori Holcomb will check for signs of excessive wear or stress upon your teeth. If it is determined you are bruxing, the first line of defense is usually a nightguard. Nightguards do not always stop the bruxism but, are designed to reduce or eliminate the amount of pressure on your teeth.
West Olive Dental offers many types of nightguards to help prevent excessive wear and joint pain.
Full arch acrylic nightguard — Models of your teeth are made and the nightguard is made by a dental laboratory. This type of nightguard can be made to fit over your top or bottom teeth.
NTI Tension Suppression System — The NTI is a small device that fits over the front teeth which keeps your back teeth from touching and therefore helps protect your teeth from more wear. The device also repositions your jaw, which reduces muscular contractions that can lead to frequent headaches and migraines. For more information click here.
If you’re not sure you’re bruxing or an infrequent bruxer, sometimes we will recommend an over the counter boil and bite nightguard you can purchase at a pharmacy.