Dental problems that start out minor and insignificant can quickly evolve into something more serious over time if left untreated. An innocuous habit such as teeth grinding (known in medical terms as bruxism) can eventually lead to much more serious issues including chipped or cracked teeth, the potential for periodontal disease and tooth loss. Often times bruxism is not recognized as the culprit.
Although nearly 70 million adults will suffer from bruxism at some point in their lives, most sufferers are unaware they have it because the symptoms are so varied and far reaching and generally the grinding occurs at night during sleep. It is important to be aware of the warning signs, since bruxism can wreak havoc in your mouth and ruin your smile. Here are some tips to help protect your smile:
One of the biggest reasons why bruxism is so damaging is because it can, over time, completely wear the enamel off your teeth. Enamel helps protect your teeth from daily use such as chewing, biting, crunching, and grinding. Enamel also insulates the teeth from potentially painful temperatures and chemicals. While it does happen to be the hardest surface in your mouth, enamel is not indestructible. In fact, it breaks fairly easily because it is so brittle. And, unlike a broken bone that can be repaired by the body, once a tooth chips or breaks, the damage is permanent. Enamel has no living cells, so it cannot be regenerated, once it’s gone your teeth will become hyper-sensitive to hot and cold foods and even to touch.
- Fractures and Cracks
Along with destroying your tooth enamel, excessive grinding can cause fractures and micro-cracks in your teeth, as well as a significant wearing down of your front teeth making them shorter and flatter. Your front teeth tend to typically wear down as you age, but severe bruxism will exacerbate these conditions, because your teeth will be constantly rubbing up against one another with the significant pressure applied. As well, excessive stress on the teeth from bruxism can lead to tooth fracture. Tooth fractures are very painful, and can require extensive restoration, or if the tooth cannot be saved, extraction.
- Gum Recession
Another significant negative consequence of teeth grinding is severe gum recession. Your gums hold your teeth in place. They form a protective seal around your teeth and help your teeth attach to the upper and lower jawbone. When you grind your teeth, you are forcefully pushing your teeth against your gums which will eventually cause the gums to recede. Once your gums recede, the roots of your teeth can become exposed, which is very painful. Gum recession can also create small ‘pockets’ in the gums which are an ideal breeding ground for bacteria to grow, and cause tooth decay at the root level. This can potentially lead to an early onset of periodontal disease and gum inflammation – which will require more chair time with a dentist to treat the periodontal disease.
The majority of bruxism sufferers report experiencing one or more far-reaching secondary symptoms as a result of their teeth grinding including: ear problems like ringing or buzzing (tinnitus); migraine or sinus pain; vertigo/dizziness; sensitivity to light, and neck and/or throat pain.
What Causes Bruxism?
Most medical experts believe that teeth grinding is the body’s natural way to relieve stress and anxiety. Once the stressful event has passed, the clenching and grinding usually goes away. But the relationship between the two can be a vicious circle, since bruxism often results in sleep disruption and sleep disruption often causes stress, which in turn will cause us to grind our teeth even more.
As you can see, bruxism can takes its toll on your teeth. Identifying bruxism before it becomes a more serious issue is the key to preventing any permanent damage to your teeth. Some of the obvious telltale signs are waking up with a sore, or fatigued jaw muscles; or with a dull headache. What is most important is to identify the symptoms and treat them as early as possible. This can be achieved by:
While there is currently no medication available to treat bruxism, since stress is a known trigger, finding natural ways to reduce stress in our daily lives can help to minimize severity and frequency of bruxism, this can include diet modification, exercise, and relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, and acupuncture.
In addition, dental experts agree that wearing a dental grind guard while sleeping is an effective way to diminish the effects of teeth grinding. A dental grind guard works by preventing the upper and lower teeth from coming into contact with each other, providing a barrier from the tooth on tooth friction caused by grinding. Dental grind guards unfortunately cannot reverse past damage but are effective in helping to prevent future damage and consequences. Dental grind guards are removable and generally worn only when needed (i.e., at night or while sleeping).
Ora-GUARD® - a Drug-Free Solution to Protect Your Smile
There are many dental grind guards on the market; however, custom-fit products by dentists can be expensive and may require multiple visits for fitting. And, they may not be covered by insurance. Many over-the-counter dental grind guards may not fit properly, can be easily chewed through, or their material composition may be simply uncomfortable to wear.
The Ora-GUARD® dental grind guard has quickly established itself as different from the rest with a revolutionary design that combines a soft, medical grade fit material to cushion the jaws during clenching, coupled with a patented bite plate wedge design specially constructed to slide the lower jaw down and forward, releasing tension on the TMJ muscle, while preventing tooth damage.
FDA cleared, Ora-GUARD® fits securely in the mouth and is comfortable to wear, allowing for natural breathing while sleeping. An easy, individualized custom-like fit is achieved at home with a simple 60 second microwave or a boil and bite fitting process. Ora-GUARD® dental grind guard provides an immediate, over-the-counter solution that protects the teeth and minimize the painful effects of teeth grinding brought on by stress. Ora-GUARD® is backed by a 6-month, 100% satisfaction guarantee.