Getting Through The Daily Grind!

It is very common for people to clench or grind their teeth without even knowing they are doing it.  In some severe cases, loud noises may be heard and you may suffer from headaches and jaw pain.  You may find that you cannot open your mouth wide for a long period of time.  Clenching and grinding can even cause discomfort while chewing.  These symptoms might be happening to you but you may not have realised the connection.  Often it isn’t until a patient shows up at the dentist with worn down teeth that the problem is found.

Most cases of clenching and grinding are caused by stress.  It’s similar to when we grit our teeth together when we are presented with a physical stress like lifting something heavy.  Some people may clench or grind their teeth when they are presented with mental or emotional stress.  You may do it concentrating hard at a computer, or when you are thinking about household budgets and chores.  Any form of mental or emotional stress can be the cause.  A lot of people will also clench and grind through the night while they are sleeping and never realise this.

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The Toils Of Our Labour!

If the clenching and grinding is not happening constantly, it may not be much of a problem.  Occasional clenching and grinding probably won’t cause severe damage to your teeth.  However, if this is happening regularly it is going to damage not just your teeth but your jaw muscles and jaw joints as well.  If you have existing dental work, this could be damaged by clenching and grinding.  Continual clenching and grinding will also lead to tooth wear which can eventually lead to fractures in the teeth.

All that clenching and grinding is using muscles in your jaw.  When your jaw muscles are overused this can lead to headaches and pain in the jaw.  You may find you cannot open your mouth for long as you muscles are already over-worked and fatigued.  Jaw joints that have been forced against the base of the skull over and over again may make clicking or creaking sounds which can be irritating and cause discomfort.

Will The Grinding Ever Stop?

If you’re worried about the long term effects of teeth clenching and grinding, then come in for a checkup.  We’ll thoroughly assess your case and come up with a treatment plan for the existing damage and help you prevent further damage.  Occlusal splints are the first line treatment for clench and grinding and provide many benefits including:

  • Preventing damage to the teeth
  • Preventing damage to dental work such as fillings and crowns
  • Preventing damaging to the soft tissues of the mouth
  • Preventing damage to your jaw joints and muscles
  • Relieving pain and inflammation
  • Helping to relax your jaw muscles
  • Training your jaw to stop clench/grinding or limit the intensity
  • Providing better sleep

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Relax, We Can Fix This!

An occlusal splint or night guard is a heavy duty mouthguard worn over the upper teeth at night to protect the teeth, jaw muscles and jaw joints from the impact of clenching and grinding.  Some occlusal splints also train the jaw muscles to relax and remember the relaxed jaw position so that during the day when the occlusal splint is not being worn, the teeth, jaw muscles and jaw joints are still protected.

Occlusal splints traditionally covered all the upper teeth, but newer versions have become smaller and hence more comfortable to wear.  They only cover the upper 6 front teeth so the back teeth are disengaged and unable to cause damage by clenching and grinding, with guidance of jaw positioning controlled by the front teeth.

Talk to your dentist at Central Brisbane Dental about clenching and grinding and see which type of occlusal splint is right for you.