Do you clench and grind your teeth? Are your teeth sensitive?
We've received quite a few phone calls from emergency patients these past few weeks. An overwhelming majority of our calls have the same issues - patients have been fracturing their teeth. Furthermore, they notice their jaws hurt and their teeth are sore when they wake up in the mornings.
As we’re entering our seventh (!!!) week of sheltering in place in Sunnyvale, I’m noticing that a lot of our patients are under high amounts of stress. Many of them are grinding or clenching their teeth (many times without realizing it). The term we use when referring to teeth grinding is bruxism.
Bruxism is a term for the involuntary and unconscious clenching and grinding of your teeth that occurs either when you are awake or asleep. It is often associated with stress, fatigue, anxiety, or caffeine/alcohol use during the day. Most people who exhibit this behavior are completely unaware of it.
Common effects of bruxism include:
As dentists, we are able to diagnose and discover if you have bruxism through a visual exam. There will be noticeable wear patterns on the chewing surfaces of your teeth. As we’ve seen recently, there may also be damage in the form of chipped or fractured teeth.
If you are a patient who is experiencing bruxism or the symptoms from it, we can make you a custom fitted night guard. These night guards are worn on your upper teeth when you sleep and work by redistributing the unwanted forces from clenching and grinding. Early intervention will lead to longevity of your teeth and oral health. Prevention costs less than treatment.