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Posted on: November 3, 2020
Are Cracked Teeth on the Rise?
The coronavirus pandemic is giving people plenty of reasons to stress themselves out. They worry about their job, their kids being home all day as schools shut down and they also have to worry about friends and family falling ill. Isolation is also a problem for some people. Some individuals have started grinding or clenching their teeth while they sleep because of the added stress. The New York Times recently published an article about how dentists around the country are reporting pandemic-induced, teeth clenching. They are seeing more broken and fractured teeth from anxiety-driven teeth grinding. Most people are not even aware they are engaging in teeth grinding.
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism is a dental condition in which you clench, gnash or grind your teeth. You may clench your teeth unconsciously when you’re awake or grind them while asleep. If you haven’t been to the dentist in awhile and last time they didn’t notice the signs or there is no one to tell you you’re making grinding noises in your sleep, you may wonder why you’re waking up with a headache or why you suddenly have a cracked tooth.
Some individuals are more likely to develop bruxism from the stress or anxiety they are feeling during the pandemic. Other individuals with certain behavioral factors are also more likely to experience bruxism, these individuals include:
- People who do not handle stress well
- People in unusually stressful situations
- Highly competitive individuals
- People who consume lots of caffeine
- Tobacco and alcohol users
- People who have sleep apnea, ADHD and other conditions
Can Bruxism Happen During the Day?
Men and women tend to clench their jaw during the day, but not grind their teeth in moments of frustration or anger. You see it frequently in professionals in notoriously stressful jobs, although more and more jobs are becoming stressful during the pandemic as workers try to figure out how to balance work, family and pandemic.
Once a person understands their response to stress, he or she can find a stress reduction method that works for them. Common methods include:
- Guided imagery tapes
- Listening to music
- Taking a walk
- Going to a park
- Spending time with a dog or cat
- Deep breathing
How Do Dentists Stop Teeth Grinding?
Dentists don’t technically stop teeth grinding, but they can provide mouth guards you wear at night to protect your teeth from the damaging effects of teeth grinding. Dentists also make their patients aware that they are grinding their teeth so they can work on the root cause, which is usually stress or anxiety. Please call us for a consultation if you want to learn more.
What Are Custom-made Bruxism Mouth Guards?
Unlike night guards you can buy in a drugstore, your dentist can provide you with a more permanent, custom solution. If you have bruxism from misaligned teeth or sleep apnea, a one-size-fits-all mouth guard will probably not meet your needs or be comfortable to wear. Our dentists are experienced and they can determine the right custom night guard to treat your bruxism safely and comfortably. Please contact our office to learn more about the night guards we offer.
Why Would I Need a Mouth Guard While I’m Sleeping?
Dental night guards counter the damaging effects of nighttime bruxism. They protect teeth and ease headaches, jaw pain and more. The trays act as cushions between the teeth, preventing you from wearing down the enamel.
What Is Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome?
Temporomandibular joint syndrome is a condition where your temporomandibular joints become painful and inflamed. These are the joints which attach your jaw to your skull. They are hinges, allowing for easy jaw movement. If you have TMJ syndrome, you may experience:
- Jaw pain
- Trouble opening your mouth fully
- A jaw which makes clicking or popping sounds
- Difficulty chewing
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, over 10 million Americans suffer from TMJ syndrome.
Will a Bruxism Mouth Guard Offer TMJ Pain Relief?
TMJ disorder can come from a blow to the jaw or it can be caused by excessive teeth grinding, which strains the joints. If you grind your teeth, a custom night guard meant specifically for your TMJ disorder can ease the pain and help the joint move easier. While there are other TMJ syndrome treatments, a night guard is the most conservative option.
Why Are Mouth Guards Important for Bruxism?
If your dentist tells you he or she sees indications of your grinding your teeth in your sleep, you’ll probably be offered a custom night guard. Night guards cushion your teeth so they don’t wear down or fracture. They also protect restorations, like veneers and fillings. Your dentist will also explain how wearing the night guard can help ease your headaches and jaw pain.
How Do I Get a Professionally Fitted Night Mouth Guard?
Your dentist will take impressions of your teeth, which they will send to a dental lab to fabricate your night guard. The lab will send the appliance to your dentist, who will call you in to make sure it fits and make adjustments as necessary. It should only take a few days until you’re comfortable wearing your new appliance.
Are Bruxism Mouth Guards from a Dentist Expensive?
We base your cost on several factors, including the specifications your dentist decides you need and the material the dental lab uses to fabricate your appliance. When you consider what it would cost to replace one porcelain crown or veneer broke because of tooth grinding, the cost is a wise investment. Contact us to arrange an examination and one of our dentists will give you an estimate of your total cost for a night guard after assessing your needs. Your dental insurance may pay all or part of the cost.
At Sweetwater Smiles, we pride ourselves on providing quality dental care in a welcoming, friendly setting. If you suspect you’re grinding your teeth at night or you already have a cracked tooth, please call us today. One of our dentists can look for the signs of tooth wear and determine if there is a physical cause for your bruxism or it may be coronavirus-stress related.