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Posted on: November 3, 2020
Are Cracked Teeth on the Rise?
Pandemic-related anxiety is causing some people to grind their teeth at night. Dentists are seeing patients who come in complaining of a cracked tooth who say they are not aware they grind their teeth. Unfortunately, men and women, and even young people, are feeling the effects as classes get canceled, work slows down or stops and friends and family fall ill. Isolation is also stressful for many people and stress is a major reason people grind their teeth at night.
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism is the technical term for clenching your jaws or grinding your teeth, usually at night, but occasionally people have daytime bruxism where they clench their jaw. It can occur for several reasons, including:
- Feeling anxious, stressed or frustrated
- Drinking alcohol in excess
- Consuming too much caffeine
- Taking certain medications
- Health conditions, especially sleep apnea
- Using recreational drugs
- Using tobacco
The short-term effects of bruxism include headaches, an aching jaw, sleep disruption and inflamed gums. The long-term effects include wearing down your teeth, fractured teeth and damaged restorations.
What Can I Do If I Clench My Teeth During the Day?
The most common reason for clenching your jaw during the day is stress. People in high-stress jobs are especially susceptible. If this is you, limit your caffeine intake and work on ways to handle the stress without doing damage to your teeth. Consider:
- Deep Breathing
- Spending time with your pet
- Listening to music
- Guided imagery
How Do Dentists Treat People with Bruxism?
First, dentists can identify the signs of bruxism and look for any physical causes, such as missing teeth or a misaligned bite. They can suggest stress relieving activities and a mouth guard to wear at night to protect their patient’s teeth and restorations until the bruxism stops, if it is stress related.
What Are Night Mouth Guards for Bruxism?
Mouth guards you wear at night look like the ones you would wear if you play contact sports. The guard is a barrier between your upper and lower teeth, protecting them and eliminating the noise you make when you grind your teeth. They’re usually plastic or rubber and you can get a custom-made rigid acrylic one from your dentist. You can also buy one in a store or online, but it is unlikely to fit well and it will probably be too soft.
Why Would a Person Wear a Night Mouth Guard?
A person would wear one to protect their teeth, fillings, crowns or bridgework from damage. They may also wear one to stop the grinding noises which may annoy their bed partner and prevent someone from waking up without a headache each day.
What Are Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders?
Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your jaw to your head. The joints allow you to chew, yawn and open your mouth wide. If you have TMJ problems, the cause is usually teeth grinding or an injury. Common symptoms of a TMJ disorder include:
- Limited jaw movement
- You can’t open your mouth all the way
- Jaw pain
- Pain when chewing
- A locking jaw
- A popping or clicking jaw
- An uncomfortable bite
Can I Get Relief from a TMJ Disorder with a Night Mouth Guard?
Yes, you can. A night guard for TMJ syndrome can hold your jaw in the correct position, which will keep you from grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw. It can also stop your jaw from locking and ease muscle spasms, so you have less pain. The extreme forces from jaw clenching or teeth grinding at night can overuse your jaw muscles.
How Important Is a Mouth Guard for Bruxism?
Grinding your teeth long-term can wear the enamel off, creating a big problem. Once you lose enamel, your teeth are more prone to decay. You can also crack your teeth by grinding them or break a filling or crown. Replacing restorations is expensive, which is a good reason to protect your teeth with a night guard.
How Do I Buy a Custom-fitted Mouth Guard?
Your dentist can provide you with a professionally fitted bruxism mouth guard. He or she will make an impression of your teeth and send it off to a dental lab. The lab will create a mouth guard for you that fits well, so you’ll get used to wearing it quickly. You can also have your dentist make any necessary adjustments, which you can’t do with night guards you buy online or at the drugstore.
How Much Do Custom Bruxism Mouth Guards Cost?
While you can get cheap mouth guards at your local drugstores, they are often too soft and don’t fit well. This can make you more likely to keep moving the muscles in your mouth. Custom-made devices from your dentist are the right firmness and fit perfectly so they are worth the investment. You won’t be tempted to chew them because they are not soft like one-size-fits-all appliances. Call to set up a consultation, and one of our dentists can provide a quote for a custom mouth guard after ensuring it is the best treatment for you.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms you’ve read about or a bed partner tells you about grinding noises you make in your sleep, please contact us at Dolson Avenue Dental. If you are grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw, one of our skilled dentists can help you keep from doing damage to your teeth or fix any damage you may have already done.