Bruxism: How You Might Be Damaging Your Smile While You Sleep

Of all the ways humans show their stress and anxiety, such as nervous twitches or nail-biting, the one that may go unnoticed is bruxism, or the grinding of our teeth. In fact, many people will unknowingly grind their teeth while they sleep and wonder why they have jaw pain. The truth is, there are many reasons why a person may be grinding his or her teeth, and getting rid of the habit might not be an easy process. Thankfully, dental professionals have come up with some preventative methods and, when necessary, treatments, to keep your teeth strong and healthy. 

The most popular method is to wear a mouth guard. Though they won’t stop someone from clenching their jaw, mouth guards will lessen the damage teeth sustain all through the night. They work by absorbing the force of the bite and dispersing it evenly, safeguarding the enamel in your teeth. 

It is important to note, however, that even though mouth guards are good for safeguarding your teeth, they are just a preventative method. If you’re someone who has been clenching and grinding your teeth for many years, it might be wise to seek treatment. Especially if you have improper occlusion, the technical term for a misaligned bite. Proper occlusion is paramount to your oral health, and improper occlusion could cause any of the following:

• Chronic or intermittent pain

• Trouble speaking

• Temporomandibular joint disorder

• Damage to the jawbone, gums, and/or teeth 

Some treatments for improper occlusion are: 

• Orthodontics: the moving around of teeth into their correct positions, solving problems like overbite, a misaligned bite, and underbite. It might be necessary, before orthodontic treatment, to perform periodontal treatment. This is to ensure that the teeth are supported by healthy and strong gum tissue.

 • Occlusal Adjustment: when the biting surfaces are reshaped. Occlusal Adjustment evens the pressure of your bite on all surfaces of your teeth, stopping a specific area from getting a painful or harmful amount of pressure. 

• Tooth Splinting: using an adhesive material which acts as a splint, tooth splinting bonds loose teeth together. This keeps them in place while a healthier connection is formed between the bone and the tooth.

• Full Mouth Reconstruction: this method is used especially for damaged crowns, fillings, and dental bridges causing improper occlusion.

If you notice that you are grinding your teeth while you sleep, or are experiencing any of the symptoms listed below, make sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hodges and ask about the available preventative and treatment methods. 

• Jaw pain

• Uneven pressure, or an uneven bite

• Sore, fractured or worn teeth

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