Grinding and Clenching

This topic can net very different answers depending on the dentist you speak to, however most dentists would agree that grinding and clenching can be a very destructive force in the mouth and the jaws. 

I'm not aware of any Clenching or Grinding...

It is very uncommon to actually notice you are grinding or clenching until the "parafunction" becomes more advanced. Once you are starting to notice problems or have symptoms, the grinding or clenching has usually been going on for a while and has started to do some damage that can sometimes be irreversible. It is most common to be told by your Dentist or Dental Hygienist long before you "notice" your habit of clenching or grinding. Patients are often surprised when we ask them about it as they are often totally unaware. 

What can happen?

You can typically produce about 5-10 times as much force at night then is possible in the day time due to loss of central nervous system control. This sustained force can eventually cause pain in the muscles around the jaws and the jaw joint itself (temporomandibular joint - TMJ). It can also cause immense wear on the teeth and any dental work done on the teeth. This can lead to teeth fracturing, dental fillings or crowns breaking, or becoming loose which increases the risk of cavities. If left uncontrolled grinding and clenching can cause tooth damage and eventually lead to tooth loss. Once the damage starts to happen to the teeth, that tooth will never be able to be returned to its full, natural state so it is often recommended by your dentist to find a solution before the damage begins, or becomes more advanced. 

How do I Address this Problem?

Clenching and grinding can be related to many conditions including stress, a misaligned bite, sleep apnea, etc. The clenching and grinding is often treated with a specific "night guard appliance" tailor made to your mouth and habits. The over the counter options can help in certain specific situations, but it is best to discuss your condition and options with your dentist before trying these options as some bite guards can make clenching worse. There are many ways to deal with this problem and if you think it may be an issue for you then ask your dentist or dental hygienist at ViVo Dental.