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Posted on: January 25, 2021
Are Cracked Teeth on the Rise?
One surprising side-effect of the shutdowns caused by COVID-19 is the apparent rise of cracked teeth. Dentists across the country have seen an increase in patients who come into their offices complaining of tooth sensitivity, jaw pain, migraines and tooth fractures. These symptoms have been caused by clenching and grinding the teeth. This grinding, also called bruxism, is typically caused by stress and anxiety. It can also be caused by lack of sleep and poor posture. All of these causes have certainly become more common as people have been forced to work from home due to the global pandemic.
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism is the term used within the medical community to describe when people grind or clench their teeth and jaws. Grinding is what happens when you move your jaw back and forth, while clenching is when you bite down forcefully for lengthy periods of time. Bruxism is a fairly common problem and it typically happens while you’re sleeping or when you’re feeling stressed out. The majority of people who have this condition don’t even realize that they have been grinding their teeth in their sleep until a partner or dentist brings it to their attention.
The continued grinding of your teeth while you are sleeping can cause an excessive amount of damage to the enamel and the structure of your teeth. This leads to an increased risk of tooth decay, as well as increased sensitivity. Grinding your teeth can also cause headaches, keep you from getting a good night’s sleep and cause you to feel pain in your jaw, face and neck.
Some of the factors that can increase your chances of developing bruxism are:
- Age: Bruxism is commonly found in young children.
- Personality Type: People who have competitive, hyperactive or more aggressive personalities are more likely to develop bruxism.
- Intense Emotions: A number of people grind their teeth without realizing it when they feel stressed, angry or frustrated.
- Certain Medications and Substances: Using tobacco, drinking alcohol or caffeine, and taking certain types of psychiatric medications also increases the risk of bruxism.
- Other Health Conditions: People who have conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, sleep apnea, epilepsy, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are more prone to grinding their teeth.
What Can I Do to Stop Clenching My Teeth During the Day?
While no one knows the exact causes of bruxism, it is believed to be caused by a combination of physical, psychological and genetic factors. People who grind their teeth during the day typically do so due to intense emotions like anxiety, anger, stress, frustration or tension. If you experience bruxism during the day or night, there are things that you can do to lessen the amount of clenching and grinding you do. These things include:
- Don’t smoke, especially before you go to sleep.
- Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol.
- Utilize relaxation techniques such as listening to calming music, taking a bath, meditating or going for a walk.
Who Can Help Me with This Problem?
If you’ve been told that you’re grinding your teeth in your sleep or are experiencing chronic headaches or jaw pain, you should see a dentist so that you can discuss the possibility of receiving a custom night guard. Using a mouth guard when you sleep can assist in protecting your teeth from the damage caused by bruxism. It can also relieve pain in the temporomandibular joint. Book a consultation with one of our experienced dentists to find out if a custom mouth guard is the best treatment option for you.
Can You Tell Me About Custom Night Guards?
Custom oral night guards are similar in appearance to teeth whitening trays. These devices sit over your teeth and protect them from clenching and grinding. They are sometimes referred to as occlusal splints, bite splints or occlusal guards. These devices don’t keep you from clenching or grinding your teeth, but they do cushion and shield the teeth from excessive wear. They also aid in re-establishing space between your upper and lower teeth.
Why Do I Need to Wear a Night Guard While Sleeping?
Dentists typically recommend that patients wear a night guard to help with headaches, TMJ pain and to prevent damage to the teeth, jaw, dental crowns and other dental restoration work.
Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome is a problem that affects the functioning of the jaw muscles and temporomandibular joint connecting the jaw to your skull. The most common causes of TMJ syndrome are bruxism and injuries to the jaw. Symptoms of TMJ syndrome are:
- Tenderness or pain in your face, jaw, neck, shoulders or around the ears
- Difficulty opening the mouth wide or chewing
- A clicking or popping sound when the mouth is opened or closed
- A jaw that appears to get stuck or locked in a particular position
- Swelling along the side of the face
- An uncomfortable bite that occurs suddenly
Can a Bruxism Mouth Guard Provide TMJ Jaw Pain Relief?
There are different types of treatment for bruxism and TMJ syndrome. A custom mouth guard is an excellent treatment option that is affordable, convenient and non-invasive. A night guard that has been fitted properly will move your jaw and teeth into their proper alignment. This relieves jaw tension, headaches, pain and other TMJ symptoms.
Why Do I Need to Wear a Mouth Guard?
Failing to take care of bruxism can lead to a number of severe dental issues that are quite expensive to treat. For instance, bruxism is one of the leading causes of root canals. This is because of the amount of erosion that occurs to the enamel due to grinding the teeth. This loss of enamel leads to a higher risk of cavities.
While you can get over-the-counter mouth guards, a custom fitted one will have a number of benefits that you can’t get from a store bought one. These benefits include:
- Ensuring that your jaw is properly aligned, which assists with TMJ jaw pain relief.
- Providing a proper fit, which means your mouth guard is more comfortable and won’t fall out.
- Being made from higher quality materials, which means it will last longer.
How Do I Receive a Custom Night Guard?
The overall process for receiving a teeth protector for sleeping is quite simple. Your dentist will make an impression of your teeth that will be utilized in creating a mold that is used for fabricating your night guard. Once the lab has finished creating your night guard, your dentist will make sure that it fits properly. After that, all you have to do is wear your guard when you sleep. While it may feel a little weird at first, you will quickly get used to wearing it. You’ll be able to breathe and speak normally while wearing it.
Are Bruxism Mouth Guards Expensive?
The exact cost of your custom night guard will depend on the materials utilized and the specifications of your device. In many instances, the cost is much less than having to receive veneers, crowns, root canals or other treatments used in addressing the damage caused by bruxism. You will be provided with an estimate before your night guard is made. You may have some coverage for your device provided to you by your dental insurance.
At Galt Family Dentistry, we work hard to ensure that your visit is comfortable and stress-free. If you’ve been experiencing the symptoms of bruxism or TMJ syndrome, book an appointment with us as soon as possible.