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Are Cracked Teeth on the Rise?

The stresses of the global pandemic, the shutdowns that have occurred locally, and the changes in work routines have all led to an increase in migraines, jaw pain, tooth sensitivity and tooth fractures associated with bruxism. Bruxism is the clenching and grinding of the teeth. This condition is typically seen in patients who have poor pasture, poor sleep habits, stress and anxiety. All of these issues have increased greatly due to the coronavirus.

What Is Bruxism and What Causes It?

The medical term for teeth clenching and grinding is bruxism. This relatively common condition typically happens while people are asleep or experiencing intense periods of negative emotions. Grinding is when you move your teeth back and forth against each other, while clenching is when you bite down excessively for a prolonged period of time. Many people don’t even realize that they have been engaging in these behaviors until it is pointed out to them by their sleeping partner or dentist.

Bruxism causes headaches, disrupts sleep and also causes pain in the jaw, face and neck. The enamel and structure of the teeth are damaged by the excessive wear, tear and pressure placed on the teeth. This damage leads to decay and sensitivity that can be expensive to treat.

Some factors that have been shown to increase your risk of having bruxism are:

  • Age: Children are more likely to grind their teeth.
  • Personality Type: People with more intense, aggressive, competitive and hyperactive personalities are at higher risk.
  • Intense Emotions: Intense stress, anger or frustration can also cause you to grind and clench your teeth.
  • Certain Medications and Substances: Taking certain psychiatric medications, using tobacco or drinking alcohol or caffeine can also increase your risk.
  • Other Health Conditions: Conditions like Parkinson’s disease, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, epilepsy and sleep apnea are frequently associated with conditions like bruxism.

What Can I Do to Prevent Clenching My Teeth?

Many researchers believe that bruxism is caused by a combination of factors that are genetic, physical and psychological. If you are experiencing daytime or nighttime bruxism (or both), there are some things that you can do to help lessen the amount of clenching and grinding you are doing. They include:

  • Not smoking, especially before bedtime.
  • Taking part in relaxing activities like meditating, taking baths, going for walks and listening to calming music.
  • Avoiding the consumption of caffeine and alcohol.

Can My Local Dentist Help Me With This Problem?

Our dentists are highly experienced in providing bruxism treatments. A custom mouth guard is one way that we can treat this issue. This device will help you to protect your teeth from becoming excessively worn and damaged. It can also help relieve you of pain in your temporomandibular joint. If you’re curious about how a night guard can help you, contact our office to book a consultation with a dentist today.

How Are Custom Night Guards Used in Treating Bruxism?

Custom night guards sit over the teeth and cushion them from grinding and clenching. These devices are sometimes called occlusal guards, occlusal splints or bite splints. Your night guard won’t keep you from grinding and clenching your teeth, but it will keep you from damaging your teeth. It will also help to establish proper alignment between your upper and lower teeth.

How Custom Night Guards Help with Bruxism

Wearing a night guard prescribed by your dentist can help you to prevent morning headaches and TMJ jaw pain. It also keeps you from damaging the teeth, jaw, crowns and dental restoration work.

What Is Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome?

The joint that connects the skull to the jaw is known as the temporomandibular joint. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome affects that joint along with the jaw muscles. The most common underlying causes of TMJ syndrome are bruxism and jaw injuries. Some of the symptoms associated with TMJ problems include:

  • Tenderness or pain in the face, jaw, neck, shoulder or ears
  • Popping or clicking whenever you open or close your mouth
  • Having a hard time chewing or opening up the mouth wide
  • A jaw that often gets stuck or locked into a particular position
  • An uncomfortable bite
  • Facial swelling

Will My Bruxism Mouth Guard Treat TMJ Pain?

In addition to treating bruxism, mouth guards can also help to relieve you of TMJ jaw pain. Properly fitted night guards are an affordable, convenient and non-invasive treatment plan for both of these issues. Wearing one every night will help to move your teeth and jaw into alignment, relieving you of jaw tension, pain, headaches and other TMJ syndrome symptoms.

How Wearing a Mouth Guard Benefits You

Not only will it help to relieve you of pain, but wearing your custom-fitted bruxism guard will prevent you from further damaging your teeth. Failing to wear your night guard can lead to expensive surgeries like root canals. This is due to the damage caused to the enamel of the teeth by the grinding and clenching. This damage leads to an increased risk of tooth decay.

You can purchase mouth guards online or in stores, but it’s best to have one custom-fitted to your mouth by a professional. The reasons why this is so are:

  • A custom-fitted appliance will push your jaw into proper alignment and assist in preventing TMJ pain.
  • A custom-fitted mouth guard will be a better fit, making it more comfortable and ensuring it won’t fall out while you sleep.
  • A custom-fitted device will be constructed of better materials and will last longer.

What Do I Need to Know About the Process for Receiving a Custom Mouth Guard?

The process for receiving your custom mouth guard consists of your dentist making a mold of your teeth that will be sent off to a lab. The lab will then make your mouth guard out of durable plastic materials. When the mouth guard arrives, your dentist will make sure that it fits properly. Then, you will need to wear it every night. While it may feel strange at first, most patients adjust to their mouth guard fairly quickly.

The Cost of Custom Mouth Guards for Bruxism

Your bill for your mouth guard will depend on the specifications and materials utilized in creating your mouth guard. Your dental insurance may cover some of the costs incurred for the mouth guard.

To learn more about how a mouth guard may be able to help relieve you of your bruxism or TMJ pain, contact Dental One Associates of Virginia today.

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