Westpark Helpful Dental Articles
Clenching and Grinding of Teeth Can Be Treated
To help patients who grind their teeth, the first step is to get to know the patient and learn about their lifestyle. So many people have excess stress in their lives that often leads to clenching the teeth or grinding the teeth, or both. These behaviors often take place every night while the patient is sleeping, but clenching or grinding can also occur while the patient is awake and going about their day. The dentist is often the first person to see signs of these problems—sometimes the patient does not even realize that have these parafunctional habits.
As I talk with the patient about their lifestyle I can put the pieces together and let them know that there are signs of grinding or clenching that I can see during the examination. Indications can show up while we are observing the muscles of the face and neck during the comprehensive exam or while we are examining their dentition closely during that exam. Symptoms can include headaches, generalized pain, teeth that are worn down and short, and broken teeth.
If the patient awakens and has soreness that is often indicative of clenching or grinding the teeth while sleeping—which produces some soreness of the face. Our bodies are not meant to withstand a tremendous amount of force in our jaw areas sustained over the eight hours we sleep. When the patient has these types of symptoms, the course of treatment will start with a night mouth guard.
The night guard we provide feels soft on the inside and is both rugged and flexible enough on the outside to relieve the strain on muscles and opposing teeth during clenching and grinding. If part of the solution to a patient’s grinding and clenching requires wearing something in the mouth during the day then we offer that type of apparatus as well.
Patients need to know that clenching and grinding can lead to a number of problems such as muscle soreness, and TMJ dysfunction if left untreated. The good news is that we are able to help patients and often get them comfortable again.
Dr. Brian Gallagher
West Park Dental
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