Bruxism is a condition in which you grind, gnash or clench your teeth. If you have bruxism, you may unconsciously clench your teeth together during the day, or clench or grind them at night (sleep bruxism).

 

Sleep bruxism is considered a sleep-related movement disorder. People who clench or grind their teeth (brux) during sleep are more likely to have other sleep disorders, such as snoring and pauses in breathing (sleep apnea).

 

Mild bruxism may not require treatment. However, in some people, bruxism can be frequent and severe enough to lead to jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth and other problems. Because you may have sleep bruxism and be unaware of it until complications develop, it's important to know the signs and symptoms of bruxism and to seek regular dental care.

 

Signs and symptoms of bruxism may include:

  • Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to awaken your sleep partner

  • Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose

  • Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth

  • Increased tooth sensitivity

  • Jaw or face pain or soreness

  • Tired or tight jaw muscles

  • Pain that feels like an earache, though it's actually not a problem with your ear

  • Dull headache originating in the temples

  • Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek

  • Indentations on your tongue

 

See your doctor or dentist if:

  • Your teeth are worn, damaged or sensitive

  • You have pain in your jaw, face or ear

  • Others complain that you make a grinding noise while you sleep

  • You have a locked jaw that won't open or close completely

 

If you notice that your child is grinding his or her teeth — or has other signs or symptoms of bruxism — be sure to mention it at your child's next dental appointment.

 

Doctors don't completely understand what causes bruxism. Possible physical or psychological causes may include:

  • Emotions, such as anxiety, stress, anger, frustration or tension

  • Aggressive, competitive or hyperactive personality type

  • Abnormal alignment of upper and lower teeth (malocclusion)

  • Other sleep problems, such as sleep apnea

  • Response to pain from an earache or teething (in children)

  • Stomach acid reflux into the esophagus

  • An uncommon side effect of some psychiatric medications, such as phenothiazines or certain antidepressants

  • A coping strategy or focusing habit

  • Complication resulting from a disorder such as Huntington's disease or Parkinson's disease

 

These factors increase your risk of bruxism:

  • Stress. Increased anxiety or stress can lead to teeth grinding. So can anger and frustration.

  • Age. Bruxism is common in young children, but it usually goes away by the teen years.

  • Personality type. Having a personality type that is aggressive, competitive or hyperactive can increase your risk of bruxism.

  • Stimulating substances. Smoking tobacco, drinking caffeinated beverages or alcohol, or taking illegal drugs such as methamphetamine or Ecstasy may increase the risk of bruxism.

 

In many cases, treatment isn't necessary. Many kids outgrow bruxism without treatment, and many adults don't grind or clench their teeth badly enough to require therapy. However, if the problem is severe, treatment options include certain dental approaches, therapies and medications.

 

Talk to your doctor about what may work best for you.

 

Treatment

If you or your child has bruxism, your doctor may suggest ways to preserve or improve your teeth. Although these methods may prevent or correct the wear to your teeth, they may not stop the bruxism:

  • Splints and mouth guards. These are designed to keep teeth separated to avoid the damage caused by clenching and grinding. They can be constructed of hard acrylic or soft materials and fit over your upper or lower teeth.

  • Dental correction. Correcting teeth that aren't properly aligned may help if your bruxism seems to be related to dental problems. In severe cases — when tooth wear has led to sensitivity or the inability to chew properly — your dentist may need to reshape the chewing surfaces of your teeth or use crowns. In certain cases, your dentist may recommend braces or oral surgery.

  • Stress Reduction techniques. If you grind your teeth because of stress, you may be able to prevent the problem with professional counseling or strategies that promote relaxation, such as exercise or meditation.

 

Muscle relaxants. In some cases, your doctor may suggest taking a muscle relaxant before bedtime, for a short period of time.

 

 

 

 

Gum recession is the process in which the margin of the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth wears away, or pulls back, exposing more of the tooth, or the tooth's root. Receding gums may be one of the first signs of gum disease. When gum recession occurs, "pockets," or gaps, form between the teeth and gum line, making it easy for disease-causing bacteria to build up. If left untreated, the supporting tissue and bone structures of the teeth can be severely damaged, and may ultimately result in tooth loss.

 

Gum recession is a common dental problem. Most people don't know they have gum recession because it occurs gradually. The first sign of gum recession is usually tooth sensitivity, or you may notice a tooth looks longer than normal. Often a notch can be felt near the gum line.

Gum recession is not something you want to ignore. If you think your gums are receding, make an appointment with your dentist. There are treatments that can repair the gum and prevent further damage.

 

Why Do Gums Recede?

There are a number of factors that can cause your gums to recede, including:

Periodontal diseases. These are bacterial gum infections that destroy gum tissue and supporting bone that hold your teeth in place. Gum disease is the main cause of gum recession.

 

Your genes. Some people may be more susceptible to gum disease. In fact, studies show that 30% of the population may be predisposed to gum disease, regardless of how well they care for their teeth.

 

Aggressive tooth brushing. If you brush your teeth too hard or the wrong way, it can cause the enamel on your teeth to wear away and your gums to recede.

 

Insufficient dental care. Inadequate brushing and flossing makes it easy for plaque to turn into calculus (tartar) -- a hard substance that can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning -- and build up on and in between your teeth, causing gum recession.

 

Hormonal changes. Fluctuations in female hormone levels during a woman's lifetime, such as in puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can make gums more sensitive and more vulnerable to gum recession.

 

Tobacco products. Tobacco users are more likely to have sticky plaque on their teeth that is difficult to remove, which can cause gum recession.

Grinding and clenching your teeth. Clenching or teeth can put too much force on the teeth, causing gums to recede.

 

Crooked teeth or a misaligned bite. When teeth do not come together evenly, too much force can be placed on the gums and bone, allowing gums to recede.

 

Body piercing of the lip or tongue. Jewelry can rub the gums and irritate them to the point that gum tissue is worn away.

 

 

 

 

 

Mouth guards, also called mouth protectors, help cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to your lips, tongue, face or jaw. They typically cover the upper teeth and are a great way to protect the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and cheek lining. Knowing how to prevent injuries like these is especially important if you participate in organized sports or other recreational activities.

 

When it comes to protecting your mouth, a mouth guard is an essential piece of athletic gear that should be part of your standard equipment from an early age. In fact, studies show that athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth if they’re not wearing a mouth guard. While collision and contact sports, such as boxing, are higher-risk sports for the mouth, you can experience a dental injury in non-contact activities too, such as gymnastics and skating.

 

There are three types of mouth guards: 

  • Custom-fitted. These are made by your dentist for you personally. They are more expensive than the other versions, but because they are customized, usually offer the best fit.

  • Stock. These are inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. Unfortunately, they often don’t fit very well. They can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult.

  • Boil and bite. These mouth protectors can be bought at many sporting goods stores and drugstores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. They are first softened in water (boiled), then inserted and allowed to adapt to the shape of your mouth.

 

The best mouth guard is one that has been custom made for your mouth by your dentist. However, if you can’t afford a custom-fitted mouth guard, you should still wear a stock mouth guard or a boil-and-bite mouth guard from the drugstore. If you wear braces or another fixed dental appliance on your lower jaw, your dentist may suggest a mouth protector for these teeth as well.

 

A properly fitted mouth guard may be especially important for people who wear braces or have fixed bridge work. A blow to the face could damage the brackets or other fixed orthodontic appliances. A mouth guard also provides a barrier between the braces and your cheek or lips, limiting the risk of soft tissue injuries. If you have a retainer or other removable appliance, do not wear it during any contact sports.

 

Some tips for caring for your mouth guard:

  • rinse before and after each use or brush with a toothbrush and toothpaste

  • occasionally clean the mouth guard in cool, soapy water and rinse thoroughly

  • transport the mouth guard in a sturdy container that has vents

  • never leave the mouth guard in the sun or in hot water check for wear and tear to see if it needs replacing

 

 

 

 

Sleep apnea is a common and serious sleeping disorder that happens when your regular breathing is interrupted during sleep. Snoring is common among patients with sleep apnea but not all snorers have sleep apnea.

 

There are two main types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea. The more common form, it is the result of blocked airflow during sleep, usually when the soft tissue at the back of the throat collapses while you sleep. Health factors, such as obesity may contribute.

  • Central sleep apnea. Results from a problem with how the brain signals the breathing muscles. The airway is not blocked, instead the brain fails to signal the muscles to breath. This type of sleep apnea can occur with conditions such as heart failure, brain tumors, brain infections, and stroke.

 

Sleep apnea can affect any one at any age, although men are more likely to develop the disorder. The risk is also greater for those:

  • over 40

  • overweight

  • with large tonsils, large tongue or small jaw

  • with a family history of sleep apnea

  • with a nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies or sinus problems

 

If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a number of health problems including:

  • high blood pressure

  • stroke

  • heart failure, irregular heartbeat and heart attack

  • diabetes

  • depression

  • worsening of ADHD

 

Sleep apnea can be treated. There are several options:

  • Adjusting sleeping habits. This may mean simply not sleeping on your back

  • Continuous positive air pressure (CPAP). This is a device which improves breathing while you sleep. The device supplies air through the nasal passages and the air pressure keeps the airway open while sleeping.  This device is usually more effective than oral appliances.

  • Oral appliances. Certain oral devices can shift and support the jaw to prevent the airway from collapsing. Research shows that oral appliances can successfully prevent sleep apnea in some mild to moderate cases, and even some severe cases.

  • Surgery. According to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine,upper airway surgery may be recommended when other treatment options are unsuccessful in eliminating the symptoms of sleep apnea. Depending on the location and nature of the airway obstruction, the procedure may be minimally invasive or more complex. It may be necessary to remove the tonsils or other parts of the soft palate or throat.

 

If you think you have sleep apnea, make sure to speak with your physician or dentist for more information and possible evaluation.

If you have sleep apnea and can’t tolerate your CPAP machine, come see us and we will work with your physician to provide an oral appliance for you.

 

 
 
 
 

Bruxism

Gum Recession

Athletic Mouthguards

Sleep Apnea/Snoring Therapy

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