Do you grind your teeth? Maybe you have a bad habit, like biting your nails or chewing on ice… your mother would be appalled! Never use your teeth as a tool unless you are stranded on a deserted island like Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway. Opening a bottle or a bag with your teeth is ill advised and an excellent way to chip or crack a tooth. Even if you don’t have bad teeth habits like these, you still may be at risk from damage done overnight while you are sleeping. You may be completely unaware that you are destructively clenching and grinding your teeth overnight. This silent and uncontrollable functional habit can have serious repercussions.
Your teeth take enough wear and tear from daily use and function through chewing that they don’t need any additional abuse. Just like other parts of your body, your teeth can and will break down over time. Jaw joints can degenerate, tooth enamel can wear down or crack, old fillings can deteriorate. If you want to preserve your teeth and smile and minimize time in the dental chair, a bite guard or mouth guard for teeth grinding can be an extremely worthwhile investment. Prevention is always the best method of treatment.
Did you know that the human bite can generate a tremendous amount of force? In fact, forces of up to 150lb per square inch can be focused on to a very small surface area of a tooth! The human bite can be stronger than the bite of many different dog breeds. Your front teeth, called Incisors, are used to bite into food. The incisors are meant for cutting or shearing. Your back teeth are called molars and they are used to crush and chew your food to allow it to be swallowed.
When a person’s bite is unbalanced, or is traumatic or destructive, excessive wear can occur leading to premature breakdown and wear. Often, an orthodontic, like invisalign or braces is required to correct bite issues with misaligned teeth. This effort to achieve balance and equilibrium are important in keeping teeth healthy and functioning well for a lifetime.
Your teeth are very strong, but if you want them to last a lifetime you need to take care of them. With advances in medicine, nutrition and healthy lifestyles, people are living much longer than ever before. Fifty years ago the life expectancy was shorter and many adults had lost several if not all of their teeth if they lived much longer than 65 years of age. But, thankfully, tooth loss is no longer an inevitable part of aging. With proper preventive maintenance care and hygiene, your teeth can remain strong and healthy. It is no longer a given that you will need to have a tooth extracted at some point. If you want to keep your teeth for a lifetime you can… it just means you have to take great care of them!!
Besides proper tooth brushing and daily flossing what else can you do to maintain your smile? A bite guard or a mouth guard for grinding teeth is an appliance made by your dentist that can protect your teeth and jaw joints while you sleep or during periods of stress that cause you to clench or grind your teeth. Bruxism is a term used to describe clenching and grinding that causes dental trauma. This trauma can be exhibited in several ways: wear or attrition of teeth, chipping or fracturing teeth, crowns or fillings, headaches, and pain in teeth or jaw joints.
The scary thing is… you may grind your teeth at night and you don’t even know it! Studies have shown that somewhere between 15-33% of children grind their teeth while they sleep and many continue this habit into adulthood. Also, just because you may not have been a teeth grinder in the past does not mean that you could not develop that habit in the future. Often times, periods of stress can trigger clenching and grinding habits. Better to be safe than sorry. If you want to preserve your beautiful smile forever, you should protect it as much as possible with a custom mouthguard.
A bite guard or mouth guard for teeth grinding can be made easily from a mold or dental impression of your teeth. Several different types and styles are available to help treat a person’s specific needs. Obviously, comfort is of major importance and that is why custom made mouthguards are best. It can be custom fitted and adjusted to your specific needs, so that it can serve its purpose at night versus ending up in a drawer or cabinet unused. The expense of a bite guard or custom mouthguard is easily offset by the savings you will get from avoiding crowns in the future to restore damaged teeth or worse, orthodontics or surgery to fix jaw and bite complications.
So, if your dentist recommends that you get a bite guard or mouth guard for teeth grinding, you should consider it an investment in maintaining your smile. It is always better to be conservative and preserve what you’ve got than trying to restore something once it has already been damaged.
At Dr. Thomas L. Anderson and Associates our number one priority is making sure your visit is as fast, pain-free, and as pleasant as possible. We strive to create office visits that surpass your expectations. You will always be welcomed warmly when you make an appointment at one of our three convenient locations! We look forward to scheduling your dental appointment soon to fit you for a custom mouthguard or to help you with any other dental needs you may have … please contact us today!