Bruxism & Clenching
Bruxing is a non-purposeful grinding of teeth in directions different from normal chewing. Bruxers usually grind teeth at night but may be unaware that they are doing so. A significant other is often the first to hear this teeth grinding at night. The teeth will wear prematurely flat over time, and can also create problems with your bite, your jaw joint and muscles in the head, neck and jaw.
Clenching is the non-purposeful clamping of teeth in the chewing position. Clenchers are often active day and night. They tend to prematurely wear the places where teeth touch each other in the chewing position. Again, the teeth show excessive wear and your smile may become a ‘flat smile line” and lead to a ‘reverse smile line’ which is a sign of wear and ageing.
Does your jaw feel stiff or do you have difficulty opening your mouth wide for longer periods at dental appointments? Do your jaw muscles feel tired in the morning? Does your dentist see signs of accelerated chewing surface wear on your teeth? Tension h eadaches, ear aches, fillings and crowns breaking off frequently are just some of the symptoms – many times there are no symptoms at all in the early phase. Night guard therapy should begin as soon as premature wear of the teeth is detected.
Prevention of tooth wear by placing a plastic barrier such as a traditional DualFlex Nightguard appliance between the top and bottom teeth is the best known solution. The plastic appliance sandwiched between the teeth, absorbs the stress and wears away when the teeth start to “brux” or clench, and the plastic wears over time rather then your teeth wearing.
A deprogramming appliance such as the NTI Appliance can also be used. Note that a deprogrammer should never be worn throughout a full 24-hour day without allowing the upper and lower teeth to come into normal contact for at least a total of 5 or 6 hours per day.