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Huntington Family Dental Group
534 Shelton Ave, Shelton, CT 06484

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Are Cracked Teeth on the Rise?

One of the unanticipated side effects of the coronavirus pandemic could be cracked teeth. According to an article recently featured in The New York Times, dentists have noticed an increase in the number of patients coming into their practices with complaints of jaw pain, tooth sensitivity and migraines. These complaints correlated with the early days of the shutdown. Since practices have begun to reopen, dentists have also noticed that there has been an alarming increase in the number of tooth fractures resulting from patients grinding and clenching their teeth. Known as bruxism, this condition is caused by stressful situations, anxiety, poor posture and lack of sleep. All of these things have become more commonplace due to the stresses associated with the shutdown and working from home.

Can You Tell Me About Bruxism?

Grinding or clenching the teeth and jaws is medically known as bruxism. This is a common condition that typically happens when a person is sleeping or experiencing stressful situations. Clenching refers to a person biting down forcefully for lengthy amounts of time. Grinding refers to a person moving his or her jaw back and forth. Most people don’t even know that they engage in this behavior until their dentist discovers signs of it.

Over the course of time, bruxism can cause extensive damage to the teeth. It wears down the enamel and destroys the structure of your teeth, leading to tooth decay and increased sensitivity. It can also lead to chronic headaches, disruption in your sleep cycles and cause pain in the face, jaw and neck.

There are multiple factors that make it more likely that you will develop bruxism. They are:

  • Age: Bruxism is more common in young children.
  • Personality Type: Individuals who lean more towards being competitive, aggressive or hyperactive are more likely to have bruxism.
  • Intense Emotions: Feeling extreme levels of stress or getting angry and frustrated can cause people to unconsciously clench or grind their teeth.
  • Certain Medications and Substances: Certain psychiatric medications, drinking alcohol or caffeine and using tobacco also increases the chances of developing bruxism.
  • Other Health Conditions: Clenching and grinding the teeth is frequently associated with other conditions like epilepsy, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Parkinson’s disease and sleep apnea.

How Do I Stop Clenching My Teeth During the Day?

No one is entirely sure what the exact causes behind bruxism are. It could develop due to genetic, psychological or physical reasons. Daytime bruxism could be caused by feeling strong emotions like stress, anxiety, anger, frustration or tension. No matter what time of day you experience bruxism, there are some things that you can do in order to prevent or lessen teeth grinding and clenching:

  • Refrain from smoking, especially before bedtime.
  • Restrict the amount of caffeine and alcohol that you consume on a daily basis.
  • Relax before going to bed and when you’re feeling stressed by doing things like listening to calming music, going for a walk, meditating and taking a bath.

How Can a Dentist Help?

Using a custom-fitted night guard can help in treating your bruxism. These devices protect your teeth from becoming worn down and can assist in providing relief from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain. If you’ve been experiencing pain from clenching and grinding your teeth, call us today to book a consultation with one of our compassionate professionals to find out if a custom mouth guard is the right type of treatment for you.

What Does a Custom Night Guard Do?

Also known as an occlusal splint, occlusal guard or bite splint, a night guard looks a lot like the trays utilized in teeth whitening. These oral devices sit over the teeth and protect them from becoming damaged during grinding or clenching. While teeth protectors don’t actually stop you from grinding and clenching your teeth, they do work as a barrier that cushions your teeth from excessive wear, while also re-establishing the space that exists between the lower and upper teeth.

Why Do People Wear a Teeth Protector When They Sleep?

Custom-fitted night guards can help if you have morning headaches. They can assist in preventing damage to the teeth, jaw, crowns or other dental restoration work. They are also utilized for TMJ pain relief.

What Problems Does TMJ Syndrome Produce?

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome is a condition that affects the way that the muscles of the jaw or temporomandibular joint (the joint connecting your jaw to your skull) function. The primary causes of this syndrome are bruxism and injuries. Symptoms of TMJ include:

  • Feeling pain or tenderness in the jaw, face, neck, shoulders or around the ear.
  • Having difficulty chewing or opening the mouth up wide.
  • Hearing a clicking or popping noise when opening or closing the mouth.
  • Having a jaw that appears to become stuck or locked in a certain position.
  • Experiencing swelling along the side of the face.
  • Feeling discomfort when biting.

How Can a Night Guard Provide Relief from TMJ Pain?

A custom-fitted night guard is one of the most affordable, convenient and non-invasive treatment options available for bruxism and TMJ syndrome. Wearing a mouth guard that has been properly fitted will shift the jaw and teeth into place, alleviating jaw tension, pain, headaches and any other symptoms caused by TMJ syndrome.

Why Is it Important to Get a Night Guard for Jaw Clenching?

Ignoring the symptoms of bruxism can lead to a multitude of dental issues requiring expensive treatments. For instance, bruxism is one of the main reasons why people need to have root canals. This is because of the way that the teeth become worn down due to clenching and grinding.

While you can get a less expensive mouth guard at most local drug stores or online, spending the extra money to see a professional for a custom-fitted device is the best way to treat your bruxism. This is because a custom night guard will:

  • ensure that your jaw is properly aligned,
  • fit better, be more comfortable and not fall out while you’re sleeping, and;
  • last longer because they are made out of higher quality materials than over-the-counter options.

How Difficult Is It to Get a Custom Night Guard?

Receiving a custom-fitted mouth guard requires your dentist to take an impression of your teeth. A mold will then be made that will be sent off to a lab. This is where your permanent night guard is fabricated out of durable plastic. Once it is finished, your dentist will ensure that the guard fits properly. Once you’ve had your final fitting, you will be able to wear it at night when you sleep.

What Will My Bruxism Night Guard Cost?

The materials used and the specifications of the device both factor into the amount you will have to pay for your night guard. It’s important to note that the cost of a mouth guard is often far cheaper than the types of interventions necessary to correct the damage done by bruxism. We will provide you with an estimate of your cost. If you have insurance, part or all of the cost may be covered by your dental insurance provider.

At Huntington Family Dental Group, we strive to make all of our patients comfortable. If you are experiencing teeth grinding and clenching, we urge you to book an appointment with one of our dentists today.

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(203) 916-1173

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