Bruxism, or teeth grinding/clenching, is thought to affect 10-20% of the population, although 80% of people experience some degree of bruxism at some point in their life. At least 1 in every 4 Americans (over 80 million people) clench or grind their teeth to the point of causing permanent damage to their teeth.
What Causes Bruxism?
While it is possible to grind and clench during the day, sleep-related bruxism is more common and more difficult to control. Many dentists are seeing an increased number of patients suffering from the condition with the recent downturn in the economy, as stress is one of the most significant contributors to nighttime bruxism. Other contributing factors include the patient’s occlusion (bite), posture, diet, and sleeping habits.
Signs That You May Grind Your Teeth
Most patients who grind their teeth are unaware that they are doing so until told by their dentist or physician, but symptoms of bruxism can include sore muscles and tissues around the jaw, flattened or worn-looking teeth, cupping/abrasion along the gumline, and sensitivity to cold, hot, and/or sweets.
Treatment for Bruxism
Portland Oregon dentists Dr. Beck and Dr. Morrow at South Waterfront Dental can examine your teeth and determine if you grind and clench your teeth. They can prescribe various treatments to help reduce permanent damage to the teeth and jaw.
One way to deal with this problem is having a custom nightguard, or “occlusal splint” fabricated. The splint usually fits over the top teeth and are designed to prevent tooth structure from being worn away by the opposing teeth. They also help keep the jaw in a more relaxed position to minimize TMJ problems.
In addition to the traditional nightguard, we can also fabricate a smaller splint in-office called an NTI, which just fits over the front teeth and prevents the back teeth from touching. The NTI device is also FDA approved for treatment of migraine headaches.
Other ways to deal with bruxism include: massaging the muscles of the face and jaw before bedtime, alternating hot and cold packs near the jaw joints to minimize inflammation, avoiding hard foods, getting adequate sleep, and various stress reduction techniques.
Make your appointment with dental office in SW Portland, Oregon with Dr. Beck and Dr. Morrow, who include a TMJ and bruxism evaluation as part of their comprehensive exam. Please call 503-841-5658 to see us if you would like more information or are concerned you may be grinding or clenching your teeth.