A Stressful Condition: Clenching & Grinding
Sometimes people exposed to chronic stress or high-pressure situations can develop a damaging habit known as bruxism: unconsciously biting down with too much force. It can happen at night or during the day and is generally found in about two thirds of the population! People with bruxism may have other 'biting' habits as well: such as biting fingernails, pencils, lips, or the insides of their cheeks. In many cases they are not even aware that they do grind or clench their teeth at night. In any case, it's a harmful habit that wears down biting surfaces, causes bite imbalances, and can lead to serious dental problems.
A Solid Solution: Protection & Rest
Since bruxers are often unaware of their habit, we carefully evaluate all our patients for the problem, checking for fractured or chipped teeth, excessively worn or flat teeth, unexplained tooth or gum sensitivity, jaw pain, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain, popping and clicking jaws, tense muscles, headaches, partially exposed and sensitive root surfaces, and/or tongue indentations. Then, if you're a bruxer, we can do several things to help break the habit, treat the pain, and eliminate further damage to your teeth and oral structures. This may involve fitting you with an orthotic appliance or nightguard to stop the trigger mechanism that initiates the unconscious clenching and grinding. Sometimes, wearing the guard will eliminate the problem. If not, we can do further examination to determine the cause, while in the meantime advising continuous wearing of the guard to spare the teeth from further damage.