Do you wake up without feeling like you got a full night of rest? Is this sometimes accompanied by a headache or a toothache? Are you experiencing jaw joint pain? Has Dr. Lepore noticed during your routine dental exams that your teeth have been becoming flatter or that you’re developing cracks in your teeth? Teeth grinding or bruxism, can occur while you are awake or asleep. Unconsciously clenching your teeth is typically associated with bruxism.
Your teeth should only make contact for around 3-4 minutes during the
day, when you chew your food. When there is constant force on your
teeth grinding or clenching, tooth structure is worn away, exposing the
inner sensitive layers of your teeth. Extreme bruxism can lead to cracks
and fractures in your teeth. (link to broken teeth page)
You may have a temporomandibular jaw disorder (TMJ), which can contribute to jaw pain and bruxism.
TMJ Disorder Video:
Common Symptoms of Bruxism
- Worn tooth structure
- Flattened teeth
- Tooth sensitivity
- Jaw soreness
- Tender facial muscles
- Audible grinding sounds that can be heard by others around you
Teeth grinding has commonly been linked to airway disturbances such as sleep apnea or acid reflux. During your comprehensive examination, Dr. Lepore and your hygienist will evaluate you for airway disorders.
Sleep Related Teeth Grinding / Bruxism (SRB)
To brux or grind your teeth while sleeping may indicate that have a sleep-related breathing disorder such as snoring or sleep apnea. As your body tries to take in more oxygen during a sleep “event”, a grinding habit, known as a rhythmic masticatory muscle activity (RMMA) occurs, causing spastic jaw opening/closing muscle activity resulting in grinding events.
Treatment for Teeth Grinding
Occlusal Guard (Night Guard)
Left untreated, jaw disorders, headaches and damage to teeth can develop. Dr. Lepore may recommend an oral appliance called a night guard (occlusal guard) to be worn while you sleep. An occlusal/night guard is a custom fabricated removable oral appliance that fits over your teeth and can be an upper or a lower guard. It is used to prevent the wearing down of teeth during sleep caused by grinding or clenching, and can help extend the life of your teeth and restorations.
Oral Appliance Therapy for Sleep Apnea
Should a sleep disorder be suspected, Dr. Lepore may recommend administering a home sleep test (HST) or polysomnography (In-Lab Sleep Test). Dr. Lepore will work in conjunction with your primary care physician and medical specialists such as board certified sleep physicians and otolaryngologists (Ear, Nose and Throat – ENT) to determine what the appropriate treatment would be, should a condition of sleep disordered breathing be diagnosed. While CPAP is the standard of care for sleep apnea, some patients choose oral appliance therapy as a comparable alternative.
Prevent tooth damage now
You should give Dr. Lepore a call today if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, or have concerns about your jaw and teeth.