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Are Cracked Teeth on the Rise?

If you look at national media reports or on social media, you’ll see people sharing their stories about fractured teeth, cracked fillings and other dental issues caused by teeth clenching and grinding at night. Stress from COVID-19 is causing people filled with anxiety to clench and grind their teeth while they sleep. Individuals worry about what they can’t control, like their jobs, their kid’s schooling and fear for their family and friends, who may get sick. The elevated stress manifests itself in their sleep, causing them to damage their teeth and not realize it.

What Does a Diagnosis of Bruxism Mean?

Bruxism means you clench your jaw or grind your teeth. When you grind your teeth, you put them together tightly and move your jaw back and forth. Bruxism usually occurs at night and people rarely realize what they are doing. Some people are more likely than others to develop bruxism, including people like the following:

  • Who are under a lot of stress or who feel anxious
  • Who take specific psychiatric medications
  • Who are heavy caffeine users
  • Who smoke or use alcohol
  • People with epilepsy, ADHD, sleep apnea and several other medical conditions

Does Bruxism Show Up During the Day?

Yes, although it is usually jaw clenching and not teeth grinding that people experience during the day. We often recommend our patients practice a technique that relaxes them, like deep breathing, that they can do while at work. Often people with stressful jobs, like law enforcement, military and medical professionals, feel stress or anxiety while working. When they are not at work, we often suggest people try:

  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Taking a walk
  • Taking a hot bath
  • Writing in a journal

How Do Dentists Treat Teeth Clenching?

At Dental Associates of Florida, we examine our patients and look for indications or clenching or grinding, like worn teeth and chips or cracks. We also ask about symptoms, like chronic headaches or a sore jaw. We will look for physical reasons, like a misaligned jaw that can be repaired. Next, we will ask you about your stress levels. If we find a night guard can help you, we will explain how we can make a custom one for you.

What Is a Custom Made Bruxism Guard?

It is an appliance your dentist orders for you that is made specifically to fit your mouth. It looks like a dental whitening tray. A custom made night guard keeps your teeth from touching, so even if your jaw moves, your upper and lower teeth cannot damage each other. You can only get a made-to-order night guard from a dental professional.

Why Should I Wear a Bruxism Guard at Night?

Night guards for bruxism can help stop tension headaches and can help stop your teeth from wearing down or cracking. If your teeth wear down, the enamel is coming off, and this will leave your teeth more vulnerable to decay and fractures. It will also make your teeth stain more easily. You can prevent these problems and more by wearing a night guard for bruxism if your dentist recommends one.

What Does It Mean if I Have Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome?

You have two temporomandibular joints that connect your jaw to your skull. Temporomandibular joint syndrome is any disorder which affects the joints and muscles which allow your jaw to move. Stress-related tooth grinding can cause pain in the joint area, but other causes include a blow to the area and arthritis. Symptoms of a TMJ disorder may include:

  • Pain at trigger points, including headaches and earaches
  • Your jaw makes a popping or clicking noise
  • It hurts to open your jaw fully
  • Problems chewing
  • Your jaw locks
  • You have a problem with your bite

Do Night Guards Work for TMJ Syndrome?

Night guards help keep the jaw and teeth in proper alignment, taking pressure off the joints. It relieves the strain from movement all night long. A night guard can be a non-invasive treatment for TMJ disorders and help relieve the associated pain.

Why Is it Important to order a Custom-Made Night Guard for Bruxism?

Off-the-shelf versions can never fit as well as a night guard that is made-to-order from a mold of your teeth. A bruxism guard you get from your dentist will fit exactly as it is supposed to, so it will be comfortable to wear. Made-to-order night guards also take into account the degree of bruxism you have, so they are just thick enough to protect your teeth, but not too thick to be difficult to wear.

How Do Dentists Create Custom Night Guards?

Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth for the dental lab. The lab makes a mold which they use to fabricate the night guard. Once it is completed to your dentist’s specifications, the lab returns it and your dentist ensures it fits properly. It won’t take you long to get used to wearing it each night. Please call us if you would like a custom made night guard to mitigate the harm from teeth grinding and jaw clenching.

What Is the Price for a Night Guard for Teeth Grinding?

The price for a bruxism night guard varies, depending on the appliance’s specifications and material. If you come in for an exam, one of our dentists can perform an exam, determine your needs and then quote a price. In most cases, the cost will be less than it would be to repair a fractured tooth or replace a porcelain crown or veneer. Dental insurance may help with the cost; check your policy for specifics.

At our dental practice, we know individuals prone to grinding their teeth are even more susceptible to grinding them now during the COVID-19 stress. We can repair issues like cracked teeth and provide custom night guards to prevent any more harm from happening to our patient’s teeth. Please call us right away if you suspect you are grinding your teeth or you have a cracked tooth you suspect was caused by bruxism.

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