The Effects of Bruxism
Bruxism can have unpleasant and harmful effects on both your jaw and teeth. Since grinding and clenching overwork your jaw muscles, these behaviors can result in discomfort, headaches and earaches, in addition to slowly eroding your teeth. Severe grinding can also be so loud that it has the disagreeable habit of waking you or a partner repeatedly in the night. Most of these destructive forces take place at night while the person is sleeping.
Other effects of bruxism include:
- Gum recession
- Malocclusion, or misalignment of the teeth
- Temporomandibular joint problems (TMJ): discomfort and poor functioning of the chewing muscles in the lower jaw
- Disk derangement
- Severe bruxism can result in pulpal exposure, or even pulpal death
- Trauma to the teeth and tooth loss
*In our office we routinely fabricate a "nightguard" for any of our patients who show clinical signs of clenching and grinding. There are "over the counter" nightguards that the patient boils in hot water and tries to mold to their teeth, but these appliances are often too bulky and don't fit tightly over the teeth, thus making sleeping more difficult. The nightguards we make are custom fit for each patient while also being very durable. We expect the custom made nightguards to last upwards of 10 years. They are made to fit over only the upper teeth. The patient will still be protecting both upper and lower teeth by just wearing the nightguard over the uppers.
*Often times, the patient also will have crowded and misaligned teeth which can exacerbate the destructive forces of clenching and grinding. In these cases, I will often recommend that we straighten the teeth with Invisalign first and then make protective retainers afterwards which will hold the teeth in their new corrected position while also serving as a nightguard.
*If you think that you might be clenching or grinding, please make an appointment with our office so we can examine you and treat you appropriately if needed.