Many of our patients suffer from a condition known as bruxism. Bruxism is a term used for patients who clench their teeth. Clenching your teeth is a common problem and is usually associated with anxiety or stress. Some people do this during the day, but many people clench their teeth when they are sleeping and are completely unaware that they suffer from the condition.
Symptoms you could have that would alert you to suffering from bruxism are waking up with a headache for no apparent reason. You could also have jaw pain, earaches or unexplained general facial pain. Since these are rather innocuous symptoms you are unlikely to associate them with something related to your teeth.
What Can Happen if I Keep Doing This? If you keep clenching your teeth you could end up losing enamel on the surfaces of your teeth. This can make it easier for bacteria to enter your tooth and cause tooth decay which results in cavities. It can also cause you to lose a tooth. Fortunately, bruxism leaves telltale signs that we can discover on your regular office visit. The surface of your teeth will be uneven or we can see other unusual wear patterns that suggest bruxism.
Simply telling a patient to reduce the stress they are under is not a solution. In most cases, that simply is not possible. What we can do, however, is help protect your teeth until you can reduce the cause of your teeth grinding or clenching. We can make an appliance, like a mouthguard, that you can wear at night.
When you wear it, even if you grind or clench, it protects your teeth from the damage. It absorbs some of the force of clenching and it completely protects your teeth from the damage caused by grinding your teeth.