Teeth grinding is a problem that affects nearly one in ten individuals, yet many of us don’t even realize that we’re doing it. And that’s a problem given just how harmful it can be to our health.
What is bruxism?
Some people grind their teeth and clench their jaw muscles during their sleep. This is called bruxism and is an involuntary habit. Whilst we do not completely understand at present why some people brux their teeth, it has been suggested that this may be linked to stress.
Does it affect my health?
As bruxism causes the upper and lower teeth to wear against each other it leads to gradual shortening and chipping of the biting surfaces of your back teeth and the edges of your front teeth, as if they had been worked over with a file or sandpaper. This is a process called attrition and can cause sensitivity, fractures and affects the appearance of your teeth. The wearing down of enamel makes it easier for bacteria to penetrate the softer part of the teeth and produce cavities.
It can also lead to scooped out areas near the gum line called “abfractions”.
In addition to cracking teeth and disintegrating fillings, Bruxers experience tenderness and pain in their jaw muscles, headaches (particularly after waking up) and an increase in the size of jaw muscles due to over-training. Bruxism is also a leading cause of TMJ syndrome, a condition in which the temporomandibular joints have been damaged, causing pain.
Sounds unhealthy, what can I do if I am a Bruxer?
Your dentist will perform a full checkup to understand if an occlusal splint might help you. A splint is a slim hard acrylic guard fitted to the upper or lower jaw to cover the biting surfaces of your upper teeth and is designed to be worn overnight. Though it will not stop you from grinding or clenching, it does relieve some of the pressure on the jaw joint and very effectively protects your teeth against the destructive forces of bruxism.
Many people find relief from tension headaches after wearing a splint regularly.
Okay, I might be a Bruxer, what is the procedure for a splint?
Our occlusal splints are custom made specifically for you, over 2 appointments:
Appointment 1: During this appointment your dentist will take impressions of your upper and lower teeth.
Appointment 2: During this appointment your dentist will ensure that your new splint fits comfortably around your upper teeth and in your bite.
Is further treatment necessary?
The purpose of a splint is to absorb the destructive forces of bruxism and to provide something to wear down other than your teeth. Your splint will wear down over time, chip and might eventually break after years of grinding on it. When this occurs, your splint will need to be replaced.
If you feel that you, or anyone you know might be a bruxer, please come in today for a gap-free examination at Normanhurst Dental.
Book your appointment: (02) 9989 8565 | Mobile: 0481102207
visit us at: www.normanhurstdental.com.au