gloved hand holding night guard

Teeth Grinding and Clenching

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is he habitual, forceful, and most often unconscious contact of the teeth’s chewing surfaces while asleep or awake. Various studies suggest that about 10% of the US population grind their teeth and become aware of the issue only after speaking with their dentist.  Your Jacksonville dentist, Dr. Rachel Monteiro, located at 6120 San Jose Blvd Jacksonville FL 32217, can help you determine if you clench or grind your teeth and how to protect your teeth from these harmful habits.

What are the causes? 

The American Dental Association published an article in March 2021 stating that 70% of dentists are seeing an increase in stress-related dental conditions, including clenching and grinding, due to the stresses cause by the Covid-19 pandemic. This statistic exemplifies why stress, anger, and fear ­– which amplify anxiety – are considered to be a leading cause of bruxism. In children, grinding is more often due to hyperactivity or misalignment of the teeth/jaw. Bruxism can also be seen in patients diagnosed with neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.  

Why is it an issue? 

Patients that clench and grind will often wake up with headaches or soreness due to the constant moving and inability to rest the jaw at night. This affects the quality of sleep and may negatively impact one’s daily productivity. Dentally, bruxism impacts the teeth directly ­– wear on the enamel may progress to the point where the inner layer of the tooth becomes visible. This inner layer is not as strong as the outer layer and provides less protection, leading to tooth sensitivity or discomfort. The movements of clenching and grinding cause existing dental work to deteriorate – fillings and crowns receive more pressure than they can withstand and often cause them to fracture. In extreme cases, gum recession is expected due to the combination of pressure and back and forth motions which loosen a tooth’s socket and creates a space for bacteria to enter.  

How can you control your bruxism?  

Bruxism can first be controlled by identifying the source of the problem. For most adults, stress is a common cause of jaw movement. We recommend destressing at least 1-2 hours prior to bedtime; this includes indulging in relaxing activities such as meditating or reading to help you achieve a better night’s sleep. Customizable occlusal guards also offer a solution by acting as a barrier and prevent the teeth from making direct contact. The couple of guard options are as follows:    

  1. Occlusal guards (aka night guards/occlusal splints/bite guards) made of a dense but flexible material, cover the full upper or lower arch
  2. NiteBite splints that cover the front teeth only and can be made in 10 minutes at your first appointment, which is useful for patients having acute TMJ and facial pain.      

If you think you may be clenching or grinding at night, schedule your visit with Dr. Monteiro at River Oaks Dental in Jacksonville.  She will complete a comprehensive evaluation to determine the extent of your bruxism and review your treatment options. Contact the office via phone (904.384.0416) or request an appointment online to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rachel Monteiro. We can’t wait to help you take care of your teeth!

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