It is estimated that anywhere from 20 to 38% of Americans grind or clench their teeth.
Stress can be a contributing factor, as can bite issues, and we now know that there is also a strong correlation between people suffering from sleep apnea and nighttime grinding (bruxing). Nevertheless, the reason for the habit is often unknown.
Teeth grinding may happen at any time, but most frequently people grind their teeth in their sleep and are not aware that they are doing it.
Symptoms and signs like these may signal you are grinding your teeth:
- Chipped or flattened worn-down teeth
- A sore tired jaw, neck or facial muscles especially in the morning
- Sensitive teeth
- Loosened or cracked teeth
- Frequent dull headaches or neckaches
- Receded gumlines
- Notches forming on the teeth at the gumline easily felt with a fingernail
- Distinct parallel line on the insides of the cheeks
- Damage to crowns, bridges or other dental work
- Soreness around the jaw joints (TMJ's)
Damage caused by teeth grinding can be extensive and expensive to repair. The earlier such a habit can be identified, the easier it is to prevent damage to the teeth and jaw joints. Dr. Frey makes a point to evaluate all his patients for possible grinding and clenching habits. In some instances the cause is simple to fix and may require a slight bite adjustment, stress reducers, sports mouthguard, or the fabrication of a custom nightguard.
Dr. Frey has found that those suffering from frequent headaches or migraines can get significant relief from a Nociception Trigeminal Inhibition (NTI) type nightguard. Other kinds of nightguards are more appropriate for other types of grinders and clenchers. It is important that the right type of nightguard is fabricated to provide proper protection and relief of symptoms.
I was warmly greeted by Angel, the office manager as I arrived for my appointment. I had barely sat down in the waiting room when Aimee, one of the two dental hygenists, escorted me to her room. She was warm and friendly, everything was prepared and I was made to feel very welcome and comfortable. As I have a lot of tooth sensitivity, she had prepared a topical numbing agent to be used before she began her cleaning. She also made sure the video was on so I could enjoy a viewing of a region of a country. That day I watched the shoreline of Big Sur, which was a fun contrast to that of Italy which I had enjoyed on a previous visit. The visit ended when Dr. Frey examined my mouth and teeth to check any changes or needs since my last visit. I left with a big white smile!