Teeth Grinding & Clenching

Molonglo Dental Surgery

Do you grind or clench your teeth when you’re sleeping? Do you know that doing so can cause permanent damage to your teeth and jaws?

Molonglo Dental Surgery offers specialty dental splints and nightguards that can help to minimise and reverse the symptoms of this sleep disorder. For more information, just give our friendly team a call at 02 6287 1222.

If someone told you that you frequently grind or clench your teeth in your sleep, it is quite possible that you are suffering from a sleep disorder known as bruxism and did not realise it.

Known as Bruxism, it is actually one of the most common yet under-diagnosed sleep disorders. The fact that many people who suffer from bruxism are not aware of their own condition, it is usually an advanced habit by the time they find out. The common telltale signs are eroded teeth enamel or deep recesses on the tongue.

In more serious cases, jaws can move out of alignment or teeth worn down to their stumps.

Bruxism: Risks and Symptoms

It is important to note that while not all cases of bruxism will cause significant problems, the majority of untreated cases will result in some form of dental or health condition.

Excessive grinding can impair previous dental work including your dental crowns, bridges, and implants. They may also cause cracks, chips or fractures on your natural as well as prosthetic teeth. Serious cases of bruxism can result in headaches, loss of hearing, aggravated TMJ disorder, cheek soreness, jaw pains and even affect your appearance.

How to guard against Bruxism

At Molonglo Dental Surgery, we recommend first conducting a review of your teeth and jaws to check for signs and symptoms to establish whether or not you have the nocturnal habit, and if so, to what extent or severity. Besides looking for signs of fractures, tooth wear or sensitivity, the dentist will inquire about your dietary and sleeping habits as well as medical history.

Our dentist would then be in a good position to determine whether to prescribe a suitable therapy or refer you to a specialist for further investigation. For example, a therapist may be recommended if stress-related or anxiety issues are identified as possible triggers, thus requiring a sleep study. An x-ray may be recommended if a jaw disorder is suspected. Corrective dental work may be necessary if the problem is related to misaligned teeth.

For the majority of cases, treatment would consist of prescribing specialty mouthguards and splints. To be worn during sleep, these therapeutic oral devices can help to relieve discomfort, pain, and wear that is caused by teeth grinding and clenching.

At Molonglo Dental Surgery, our dental nightguards and splints are made from high-quality material and craftsmanship at a dental lab to your precise measurements and fit. The unique design, stress absorbency and close fit of the devices prevent the upper and lower sets of teeth from making excessive contact. Further, the hard acrylic material of the device is able to withstand the bruxing action.

Not to be confused with over-the-counter splints and mouthguards available at your local sports shops – they protect your teeth against sporting impacts or injuries – these are custom-made, dentist-administered oral devices that conform to your individual sets of teeth, that are designed for overnight wearing.

For a gentle and non-surgical way to prevent the effects of bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching during sleep), call our friendly team at Molonglo Dental Surgery on 02 6287 1222.

What is the relationship between teeth clenching and TMJ?

TMJ can be described as a pain-causing alteration in the normal functioning of the jaw joints. Teeth clenching and grinding is often cited as the main cause of the Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ or TMD). That is why many treatments of TMJ are focused on remedying bruxism.

Whether deliberate, habitual, part of a sleep disorder, teeth grinding involves the abnormal and excessive use of the masseter muscle. One of the strongest muscles in the body, the masseter can exert up to 150 pounds (22.6kg) of force.

However, this force meant for chewing food or holding/ biting objects between the teeth, instead of grinding down the opposing set of teeth. This excessive teeth grinding can be highly destructive for your teeth and may even alter the alignment and shape of your mouth.

Over time, unconscious teeth clenching and grinding, especially during sleep, can result in common TMJ issues.

The three most common TMJ problems are:

Myofascial pain: A chronic pain disorder also known as referred pain. It occurs when pressure on sensitive points in your muscles causes pain in the muscle of other seemingly unconnected parts of your body. Symptoms include headache, stress, anxiety and chronic back pain.

Internal derangement: This refers to an abnormal position of the articular disc, the little rubber band that sits between your jaw and the skull. The articular disc helps to cushion biting forces thus allowing the jaw to open and close with ease.

The abnormal position of the disc results in the restriction of the normal range of motion ­– in some cases, limiting mouth opening. Patients often complain of a clicking sound in the jaw area when they open or close their mouth.

Osteoarthrosis: A degenerative disorder that mainly affects the disc cartilage of the jaw joint. A damaged disc cartilage can impair the normal function of the jaw joint.

Diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorders is highly complex and usually entails a multidisciplinary treatment approach. As such, it is important that dentists address the underlying causes of TMJ, including those of teeth grinding and clenching.

Why should I buy a teeth grinding mouth guard?

Teeth grinding and clenching not only damages your teeth, gums, and jaw, it can also disrupt your partner’s good night sleep. Some of the ways to reverse or minimise this problem include medications, lifestyle and behavioural change, and surgery.

However, the mouth guard for clenching is still the easiest solution that provides the most immediate results.

Mouth guards or teeth guards are made from durable and rugged plastic material. As compared to daytime mouth guards, bruxism night guards are more commonly used. That’s because nocturnal teeth grinding is more prevalent. It also puts more pressure on your opposing teeth and therefore more likely to damage your teeth.

By taking an impression of your bite, your Canberra dentist will ensure that the night guard fits your exact teeth dimensions and conforms to the unique contours of your pearlies.

At Molonglo Dental Surgery, all our custom-fitted mouthguards are FDA-approved dental appliances. They are precisely designed and fabricated to prevent your teeth from touching, thus reducing the pressure on your teeth and pain on your jaw muscles.

By investing in this simple dental appliance, you may end up saving thousands of dollars in future dental treatments. The initial cost of the mouth guard is far less expensive than the treatment that will become necessary if your teeth remain unprotected. For example, teeth grinding can result in a fractured tooth tat needs a crown restoration. The crown alone can cost 2 to 3 times as much as a night guard.

For a gentle and non-surgical way to prevent the effects of bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching during sleep), call our friendly team at Molonglo Dental Surgery on 02 6287 1222.

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