Bruxism, or chronic teeth grinding or jaw clenching, is extremely common and can occur at any age. Many people grind or clench at night and are not aware of what they are doing. Bruxism can cause jaw soreness, headaches and other symptoms. Unfortunately bruxism is also very harmful to the teeth and can lead to dental injury. If you grind repeatedly, your tooth enamel can wear down from the forces of clenching or grinding, and your teeth can crack, chip or even break. Existing restorations like bridges or crowns can break and require replacement. Chronic grinding or clenching can also aggravate your jaw joint and lead to jaw pain, clicking or popping noises when opening the jaw and other problems.
If you grind or clench at night, it may seem as though you have no control over your habits. Although Dr. Ashwini Bhave cannot help you completely stop grinding or clenching in your sleep, she can suggest lifestyle changes to reduce the occurrence of nighttime grinding or clenching. Furthermore, Dr. Bhave can prescribe treatment to protect your teeth from the pressure of bruxism and preserve your smile.
Protecting Teeth From the Forces of Grinding
A splint or bite guard worn at night is a mainstay for sleep bruxism. A night guard does not stop you from grinding or clenching, but it acts as a barrier or buffer between your teeth as you grind or clench in your sleep. Made from hard plastic, the appliance is worn over your upper or lower teeth. It protects your tooth enamel and prevents the teeth from chipping, cracking, wearing down prematurely and flattening. A night guard can also help prevent your gums from receding and improve or relieve jaw pain.
Stock or off-the-shelf night guards may seem like an easy, accessible option; however, they are universally bulky, fit poorly, break down quickly and can interfere with breathing. If a stock night guard doesn’t feel good, you probably won’t wear it. If you do, it might cause your teeth more harm than good.
Custom-fitted night guards offer a better fit and better protection. Your custom night guard is constructed from top-quality materials to the exact shape and placement of your teeth. Dr. Bhave takes impressions of your teeth and sends detailed instructions to the dental laboratory responsible for constructing your night guard. She only works with the leading dental labs to ensure well-fitting, quality night guards.
Once your night guard is ready, Dr. Bhave has you try it on in our office and checks its fit. She can make any minor adjustments to ensure a comfortable fit and a proper bite. If needed, she can even have the night guard remade. The goal is for your night guard to fit comfortably, offer excellent protection and last a very long time.
Repairing or Rebuilding Compromised Teeth
If bruxism has led to excessive enamel wear or dental injury, Dr. Bhave can repair or rebuild your compromised teeth. This could include replacing damaged restorations, placing new ones or taking other measures to restore your teeth to their normal shape and function. Dr. Bhave cares deeply about the appearance and health of your smile and will recommend the most suitable course of action.
Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Bhave Today
If jaw soreness, headaches, flattened teeth or other signs indicate you grind or clench your teeth at night, Dr. Bhave can help. Call or email our practice to request an informational consultation with her today.