Are you a grinder? You may be, and not even know it!

Andra Mahoney, BS RDH

Are you a grinder? You may be, and not even know it!

Do you ever wake up in the morning with sore teeth and jaws?  You could be grinding your teeth.  Teeth grinding is usually done unconsciously in your sleep, but it can also occur when you are awake.  It is common to find people that clench or grind their teeth occasionally throughout their lives.  However, chronic clenching and grinding can cause long term damage and problems with your teeth and mouth in general.

Why do people grind their teeth?

Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth (malocclusion/malalignment). It can also be caused by a sleep disorder, like sleep apnea.

How can you tell if you grind?

Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth.  Here are some common signs that you may be a grinder:

  • Wake up with Headache/Sore Jaw or teeth
  • Significant Other hears you grind in your sleep
  • You notice flattening of your teeth
  • Broken teeth/fillings
  • Increase in teeth sensitiviy

A dental professional, like your Dentist or Dental Hygienist, will be able to tell the last three, as well.  If they haven’t mentioned it to you already, feel free to ask if this is something that may effect you.

Why is it harmful to grind?

Most people clench or grind at night.  When you are asleep, so is the function that regulates the jaw’s power.  In the day time, your brain puts limitations on how hard you can bite or clench.  When you are asleep, so is this part of your brain.  That means you are biting way harder than you are able to while you are awake.  Those that clench or grind while they are awake, are usually doing it subconsciously.  Usually when they are extremely focused or concentrating on something else.

The biggest concern with clenching or grinding is the wear on your teeth.  Once you have worn through the enamel, the hard outer structure of your tooth, the wear will increase!  The dentin, the inner structure of your tooth, is not as strong as enamel and will wear a lot faster.  This will result in wearing your teeth down to stumps.  If the wear gets to this point, and no preventative treatment has happened, it can be a very long and expensive problem to fix.  Your Dentist can talk to you about crowns and other treatment to restore the height and function of your teeth.

Another concern would be breaking teeth or fracturing your natural teeth or restorations, such as fillings, and crowns.  We want to prevent fracturing so that the tooth does not break in a non-restorable way.

As we get older, we will wear on our jaw joint (temporomandibular joint, TMJ), that is a natural process.  However, when we are constantly and continually clenching or grinding, that will accelerate the wear.  The faster the wear, the increase of problems that can occur: jaw pain, clicking, popping, jaw deviation, or locking open/closed.

What can you do about it?

If you are having these symptoms and concerns, schedule an appointment to visit your Dentist.  They can confirm if this is the case.  If so there are options.

If you are clenching or grinding your teeth due to malalignment, the Doctor may recommend Invisalign or traditional orthodontics.  Putting the teeth in their proper spot will help the jaw align properly as well.  It will also prevent fractures or breaks since the teeth will be biting on even surface instead of placing  constant and uneven force on the teeth.

A mouthguard, also know as night guard, is a great help.  A nightguard is a thick, hard material that does not allow your jaw to clench all the way together.  This will prevent advanced wear of your TMJ.  Also, clenching or grinding will occur on the guard, instead of your teeth, thus saving your natural and restored tooth structure.

Sources:

Advertisements

Oral Parafunctional Habits

KO6A3321-Edit

Becky Larson, RDH

Oral Parafunctional Habits

We all need to move our jaw and teeth to do normal everyday activities such eating, talking, and breathing.  However, some individuals use their teeth and/or jaw for other purposes, which are not considered normal activities.  A para-functional habit is the habitual exercise of a body part in a way other than the most common use of that body part.  Some oral para-functional habits include clenching or grinding the teeth (bruxism), tongue thrusting, and thumb sucking.  Oral para-functional habits can cause problems with the teeth and/or jaw and should be addressed as soon as they are discovered.

Clenching or grinding of the teeth is referred to as bruxism.  Teeth are meant to clench and grind during the process of mastication (eating) but not in the absence of food.  Occasional teeth grinding doesn’t usually cause harm.  However, grinding on a regular basis can cause extensive damage to the teeth as well as other oral health complications.  Grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety but occurs most often during sleep.  Because of this, most people are unaware they grind their teeth.  Symptoms of bruxism include a dull, constant headache and/or a sore jaw upon waking up.  Usually a spouse or loved one will also hear the grinding at night.   Your dentist can examine your teeth and jaw for signs of bruxism.  Chronic teeth grinding can result in tooth fractures, loosening of the teeth, tooth loss, or teeth worn down to stumps.  In these cases the dentist may place bridges, crowns, implants or perform root canals.  Severe grinding can cause pain in the temporomandibular joint (jaw joint).  Wearing a mouth guard while you sleep can prevent excessive wear on the teeth.  Having a custom fit mouth guard is the best option as it is made from impressions your own teeth.  While a mouth guard does not stop the clenching and grinding from happening, it prevents wear on the teeth by putting a barrier between the biting surfaces of the teeth.  Usually mouth guards will last a few years before needing to be replaced.

Tongue thrusting is where the tongue protrudes near or through the front teeth during swallowing, speech, or while the tongue is at rest.  The correct position of the tongue should be on the roof of the mouth (or palate) when swallowing.  Symptoms of tongue thrusting include:

  • Dental malocclusion (teeth don’t align correctly)
  • Poor facial development
  • Mouth breathing
  • Periodontal problems
  • Other oral para-functional habits (bruxism and/or thumb sucking)
  • Drooling
  • Limited tolerance to food textures or limited diet
  • Difficulty swallowing pills
  • High palatal arch

Tongue thrusting can also be related to thumb sucking.  Children often begin sucking thumbs or fingers at an early age.  It is a reflex that provides comfort and relaxation and as such, many children practice this habit while sleeping.  While this habit is generally stopped around 2-4 years of age, some children continue thumb or finger sucking into elementary school.  Most dentists will advise to break this habit before permanent teeth begin to erupt.  Pacifiers are great substitutes for thumbs and fingers because they can be taken away at the necessary time.  Both tongue thrusting and thumb sucking can be detrimental to the development of facial structures, jaw and teeth.

Please talk with your dentist if you are experiencing problems with any of these para-functional habits.  He or she can recommend treatment to help prevent un-necessary tooth damage.

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/parafunction

http://orthowny.com/parafunctional_habits/

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/teeth-grinding-bruxism#1

http://tonguethrust.weebly.com/

Which Occlusal Guard is Right for You?

KatieM

Katie Moynihan BS RDH

Which Occlusal Guard is Right for You ?

Do you grind your teeth when you sleep? Ever noticed pain in your jaw? Bruxism is the term used when a person is grinding or clenching their teeth. Often times, bruxism occurs unconsciously during the day or most often at night. Whether you know you do it or not, there are certain dental signs we look for as oral health professionals in order to properly diagnose the right mouthguard for you.

Occlusal wear on the teeth can lead to gum recession, fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. An occlusal guard is custom made to be worn over the biting surfaces of either the upper or lower arch of teeth, and is easily inserted and removed by the patient. It is made out of an acrylic strong enough to minimize the abrasive action of excessive tooth forces. They should be worn on a long-term basis to help to stabilize the occlusion as well as prevent damage to teeth and to the temporomandibular joint.

OG 1

Another bruxism appliance is called an NTI-tts device. Unlike the occlusal guard, the NTI device only covers part of your mouth, clipping over either the top or bottom front teeth. This small, custom fitted plastic device forms a barrier between your top and bottom teeth, preventing you from biting down completely. You might consider an NTI device if a conventional occlusal guard has not worked for you, you suffer from migraines and headaches, or experience pain associated with your TMJ. The goal of the NTI is to prevent the grinding and touching of the rear molars by limiting the contraction of the temporalis muscle.

OG 2

Although there is no single cure for bruxism, these devices are available to help reduce symptoms associated with teeth grinding and clenching. If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, we would be happy to talk to you about it and help you determine which bruxism device is right for you.

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bruxism/basics/causes/con-20029395

http://www.medicinenet.com/teeth_grinding_bruxism/article.htm

http://www.o-guard.com/nti-night-guard/

STOP IT!! These habits can harm your teeth!

photo

Ann Clark RDH

Enamel is the toughest substance of the body.  But teeth can still be vulnerable when it comes to neglect, abuse or misuse.

1) Chewing on ice, pencils- Harmless? think again.  This habit can chip or crack your tooth.  It can also irritate the inside of the tooth causing toothaches or sensitivity.

ice chewing

2)Sports without mouthguards-Many sports require a mouthguard, a molded piece of plastic protecting your teeth.  Without one you an chip or even knock one out.  Get a custom fit one from your friendly dentist.

3)Bedtime bottles-Giving baby juice, milk or formula at bed can lead to decay.  The remnants bathe the teeth in sugars over night.

getty_rf_photo_of_baby_with_bottle

4)Tongue piercing-Biting on a stud can crack a tooth.  Metal rubbing against gums can cause damage that may lead to tooth loss.  The mouth  is a haven for bacteria increasing the risk of infection.  Over time the metal can also wear down the enamel changing its shape.

piercing

5)Drinking coffee-The dark color and acidity can cause yellowing over time.  Fortunately, it’s one of the easiest to treat with a little whitening.

coffee-black

6)Smoking/tobacco products-These stain the teeth and lead the way to periodontal disease.  Tobacco can also cause cancer of the mouth, lips and tongue.

cigarette

7)Drinking wine-The acids in wines eat at the enamel creating rough spots.  A stained tooth is like sandpaper attracting more bacteria.  Red wine contains chromogen and tannins which help the color to stick…rinse with water, alcohol dries out your mouth.

8)Constant snacking- This produces less saliva than when eating a meal, leaving food bits in the teeth longer.  Snacks should be low in sugar/starch…try carrots.

9)Binge eating-Binging and purging(Bulemia) can do damage from acids found in vomit that erode enamel, leaving them brittle and weak.  Acids also cause bad breath.

10)Whitening too often- Chronic whitening or not following directions acn lead to gum irritation and increased sensitivity.

11) Bottled water- Most have little to no Fluoride as do home filtration units.  Fluoride remineralizes and strengthens tooth structure.

12)Grinding/Clenching-Bruxism wears the tooth down over a period of time.  If worn to the  inner dentin your teeth become sensitive.  Stress, boredom, and sleeping habits make it hard to control. Worn down teeth make you look older and cause pressure to fracture the teeth.

13)Medications-Oral contraceptives can change your hormones and lead to periodontal disease.  Cough drops are high in sugar content leading to decay.  Antihistamines asue dry mouth as do many meds.  We need our saliva to protect our teeth!

14)Drug Abuse(Meth)- Crystal Meth, an illegal and addictive drug can destroy your teeth.  Users crave sugary drinks and foods, clench and have dry mouth.  They notoriously lack in taking care of themselves.

15)Gummy candy-Sticky foods keep sugars and resulting acids in contact with your enamel for hours.  Eat them with a meal as more saliva is produced helping to rinse your mouth.

gummy bear

16)Sodas/Sports drinks/Fruit juice-Sodas have 11teas. of sugar per serving.  They also contain phosphorus and citric acids which eat at enamel.  Diet skips the sugar but adds more acid (artificial sweetners).  Don’t sip these beverages keeping the teeth bathed, chug them and rinse with water

17)Potato chips-Bacteria in plaque will break down starchy foods into acid.  This acid can attack teeth for 20+ minutes if stuck between the teeth…floss!

18)Using your teeth as a tool-It’s convenient to open a bottle or package this way but it canlad to a chip or crack and nail biting is full of germs and bacterias, don’t chew on them.

tooth tool

19) Brushing too much, too hard or with a hard bristle brush-This can erode enamel. Toothpaste can be abrasive, technique is important so as not to take away enamel.  Skipping check ups and not flossing will, of course, cause problems as well.

Being informed is your best defense!

Ann Clark RDH

 
Photo cited:
 
Cigarette  www.webmd.com
Baby bottle www.webmd.com
Gummy Bear www.markmatters.com
Tooth Tool www.webmd.com
Ice Chewing. www.personal.psu.edu