For many patients, nighttime grinding and clenching cause a host of problems including broken crowns, worn down incisors and sore jaw muscles. These habits fall under the category of bruxism- the involuntary contraction and movement of the jaw muscles.
In most instances, bruxism occurs at night when you sleep. It can also occur during daytime hours in periods of intense stress or concentration. Early signs of bruxism include sore jaw muscles, sensitive teeth and "scalloped" indentations on the sides of the tongue. Later indications include fractured enamel, blunted cusp tips and chipped porcelain on dental crowns. It is generally understood that bruxism is caused by stress and external triggers that activate automatic responses in the brainstem. As such, tackling the cause of bruxism involves a deeper investigation into stress, coping mechanisms and mental health.
From a dental perspective, our office offers custom fitted night guards to protect against the effects of nighttime grinding and clenching. On top of preventing damage to the teeth, these appliances feature a completely level biting surface. This allows all the opposing teeth to contact the guard at the same time, increase comfort and preventing jaw fatigue. Night guards usually need two appointments- one for initial impressions and a followup to deliver and adjust the finished guard.
Night guards represent only one of many protective and preventative services we offer. If you would like to know more about bruxism, night time grinding or how to prevent it please give our office a call.