Teeth grinding, or Bruxism as it’s officially known, is one of those tricky conditions that you could be suffering from without even knowing it. An involuntary clenching, grinding and gnashing of the teeth, it doesn’t always display its symptoms in ways that are immediately noticeable.
Most people aren’t even aware they are grinding their teeth until their partners tell them or advanced symptoms such as jaw pain, headaches and worn down, sensitive teeth start to emerge.
Symptoms of tooth grinding
What makes working out if you grind your teeth so challenging is that while you may have some symptoms when you first wake up, they can quickly disappear; and if you grind teeth during waking hours, symptoms won’t be noticeable until later in the day.
So what should you be looking out for?
- Fractured, chipped or loose teeth
- A dull headache, sore jaws and/or ear pain
- Aching teeth, and stiffness in the face and temples, particularly after you’ve just woken up
- Sore jaws while you’re eating, especially at breakfast time
- Sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks
- Intense jaw clenching
Even if you’re not sure that teeth grinding is responsible for the symptoms you’re experiencing, telling your dentist as soon as you suspect something’s wrong means they can perform a diagnosis and devise possible treatment options.
Problems caused by tooth grinding
All those niggling, sometimes painful symptoms may be pointers to even worse damage being done. Teeth grinding places a lot of pressure on your teeth, cracking their protective enamel, fracturing them and breaking things like crowns and fillings, while placing great stress on your jaw joints and muscles.
You might also find your teeth are more sensitive to temperature fluctuations, and more painful to bite down on as the fibre that attaches them to the bone gets inflamed.
Causes and treatments
The range of likely causes of bruxism are physical and psychological meaning that any treatment will often need to address both these things. Your dentist, of course, will take care of the possible physical causes such as overly-high fillings, or missing or crooked teeth and may fit with an occlusal splint if you grind your teeth at night.
This occlusal splint will not only protect your teeth but prevent further damage of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) As it has to be designed specifically for your teeth and your bite, with some amount of thickness and height that your dentist will determine for each patient.
If you play a contact sport, and a lot of Aussies do, you risk injuring your teeth.
Many sports have risk of contact and therefore serious dental injury. These sorts of injuries are often difficult to treat, and often involve a lifetime of expense.
The damage done
Mouthguards can protect you from some serious sporting injuries, such as broken jaws, fractured, cracked or knocked-out teeth, cut lips and tongues.
And you don’t just have to be playing obvious contact sports like rugby union, rugby league, AFL, hockey and boxing to sustain those kinds of injuries. Even non-contact sports like cricket, basketball, netball, touch football, skateboarding and soccer, carry a real risk of accidental collision, and resulting dental trauma.
How a mouthguard works
A custom-fitted mouthguard works by absorbing and spreading the impact of the damaging blow, and is fabricated based on an impression of your teeth and jaw taken by your dentist.
A mouthguard that is custom-fitted by your dentist is far superior to an over-the-counter mouthguard because it’s specially designed to fit the exact contours of your mouth, is resilient, balances your bite and allows speech and normal breathing. If properly used, stored, and checked by your dentist every year, a custom-fitted mouthguard should last several seasons.
In contrast, self-fitted, over-the-counter mouthguards, which include what are commonly known as boil-and-bite mouthguards, should not be used. They do not protect the teeth, are loosely fitted, impede breathing and speaking, and can even wedge in the back of the throat at impact which could be life threatening.
Wearing a custom-fitted mouthguard
Custom-fitted mouthguards, by virtue of their exact fit, let you talk normally, don’t restrict your breathing and stay firmly in place, allowing you to concentrate on playing the sport you love. You should consider it a mandatory part of your sporting equipment, no matter your age or experience.
To keep your mouthguard in tip-top working order, you’ll need to keep it out of the sun, wash it in cold water after use, keep on the supplied plastic model cast and get your dentist to make sure it’s still OK when you go in for your regular check-ups.
Only dental professionals can design and manufacture a custom-fitted mouthguard that provides adequate protection.
Do you want more information or have any doubts left? Contact us here and we will happily help you.