Clenching and Grinding Your Teeth
Chronic clenching and teeth grinding, also called bruxism, causes excessive wear and damage to the teeth, resulting in cracks. It can also lead to facial muscle pain, temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD), and arthritic problems of the jaw.
Winston Hills dentist Dr Martina Lavery feels that grinding and clenching causes more damage than decay and gum disease in the mouth.
Often, you may not realise that you are clenching or grinding your teeth. Dr Martina will evaluate your mouth and jaw for common symptoms, such as:
- Popping or clicking joints
- Wear patterns on teeth
- Bite marks inside the mouth
- Sensitive teeth and fractured enamel at the gumline
- Gum recession
The Effects of Grinding
Grinders literally give their jaw muscles a ‘gym workout’, mostly during sleep. The muscles of the face and jaw are powerful and result in your teeth being exposed to excessive force over extended periods of time, which age them dramatically compared to non-grinders.
In fact, your teeth are only designed to be together during swallowing and chewing. At all other times, your teeth are supposed to be apart with your jaw at rest. With our busy, stressful lifestyles, this certainly is not the case.
Dr Lavery has seen extensive damage from bruxism; even a healthy, unfilled tooth can crack and require advanced treatment such as root canal therapy with a crown, or worse still, extraction and implant placement.
What Causes Bruxism and TMD?
While causes vary from occlusal (bite) disorders to lifestyle habits such as alcohol use, smoking and drugs, sometimes the cause cannot be determined. Regardless of the origin, we can slow down the deterioration of teeth and jaw joints with proper treatment.
Treatment for Bruxism and TMD
We can prevention the problems associated with grinding and clenching with a customised night guard, also called a splint.
Dr Lavery’s technicians use the most advanced acrylic technology when fabricating customised splints. The material is stronger and more flexible, which gives patients a comfortable way to protect their smiles.
Injections to Relax Over-Exerted Muscles
Another approach is to reduce the activity of facial muscles with botulinum medication to reduce the power and size of the muscles. This is particularly welcome by patients who have developed enlarged jaw muscles with a boxy appearance. You will still have full chewing capabilities, but muscles will be less forceful.
Many patients report improvement, including:
- Fewer tension headaches
- Relaxed facial muscles
- Less sensitivity in teeth
- Improved sleep quality
Injections provide temporary relief and will require re-treatment every 4 to 6 months to remain effective. Dr Martina will have the ability to adjust injection potency to ensure you enjoy relief from painful symptoms.
Do You Grind Your Teeth?
Contact our Winston Hills dental studio to arrange a booking with Dr Lavery to get the answers you need for the best oral health. Her warm approach to care and ability to put patients at ease takes the stress out of dental visits.
If you suspect you grind your teeth or your partner has mentioned teeth grinding, we can help you achieve improved oral health and greater comfort.