Teeth grinding or clenching is a common issue that affects millions of Americans. Known as bruxism and typically occurring during sleep, teeth grinding or clenching can can cause severe damage to the teeth and jaw as well as disruption of sleep.
Our Oregon City family dentist office is trained to handle preventative care and to design special mouthpieces for sleep apnea and bruxism. According to the American Sleep Association, about 10 percent of adults in America and 15 percent of children grind or clench their teeth while they sleep. Your risk of bruxism is 50 percent higher if the disorder is prevalent in your family.
During your regular cleanings, we examine your oral cavity and teeth and monitor changes in the teeth. A prominent sign of bruxism is seeing wear in the front teeth. Patients with bruxism actually see their front teeth shorten over time, and in some cases, the teeth will fracture or break.
Bruxism can create both short-term and long-term side effects, including:
● Constant headaches and migraines
● Jaw, neck, and shoulder pains
● Poor sleep
● Tooth sensitivity
● Jaw popping, locking, or clicking
● Worn or fractured teeth
● Receding gums
● TMJ disorder
Untreated bruxism can lead to a serious jaw disorder known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). As the teeth wear down, your bite changes, which then affects the positioning of your TMJ. We use our TMJ thousands of times a day for eating, drinking, speaking, laughing, and other movements, so damaging the TMJ can result in serious dental problems. TMJ and bruxism often overlap in symptoms, but not exclusively.
In addition to crafting oral appliances for bruxism, our office also works with a specialist to treat TMJ patients.
How to Treat Bruxism
One of the biggest problems with bruxism is that it usually happens when we’re sleeping, so the patient often has no control of the problem. In some cases, bruxism can be treated with relaxation techniques, as stress and tension is known to be a big factor in causing clenching or grinding, jaw muscle exercises or prescription muscle relaxers. Children with bruxism often grow out of grinding or clenching their teeth, though it is not rare for the disorder to continue into adulthood.
For patients who cannot control their grinding or clenching, we design a custom mouthguard that will take the pressure off of your teeth while you sleep. The mouthpiece does not allow the teeth to touch and disperses the pressure caused by the clenching or grinding. There are over-the-counter mouthpieces for bruxism, but those devices are not customized to your smile. A mouthguard drastically reduces in function when it is not customized to your bite or shape of your mouth. Our office takes detailed impressions of your mouth to make sure your mouthpiece fits perfectly.
Our mouthpieces are comfortable, and patients especially adapt to wearing them at night. And after only a few nights of wearing the mouthpiece, patients see their symptoms reduce!
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