Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next week? It seems like 2011 came and went! With the holidays already upon us and New Year’s Eve looming as a constant reminder to wrap up any loose ends before the year ends, the “most wonderful time of the year” can be a little stressful.
Dealing with Stress
Everyone deals with stress differently, but it’s important to not let stress take a toll on your health. Some people tend to eat more (or not at all), lose sleep, or feel the need to stay busy when stressed. One of the most common symptoms of stress, however, is grinding and clenching the teeth, and it’s often done subconsciously so you may not even be aware of the habit.
Being a Bruxer
If you grind or clench your teeth regularly, which is medically known as brusixm, you’re considered to be a bruxer. Don’t be embarrassed by your condition. Approximately 25 percent of the American population grind or clench their teeth to some extent. If you grind your teeth in your sleep, like most bruxers do, a sore jaw and/or damaged teeth may be your only warning signs. Unfortunately, these symptoms are the foundation of larger problems as a result of bruxism.
Chronic teeth grinding can result in the fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth, as well as the excessive wear of teeth and tooth enamel. When this happens, extensive restorative and cosmetic dental procedures may be needed to repair the damage and, in some cases, the teeth need to be entirely replaced with dental implants, dentures, or dental bridges. Often, TMJ (temporomandibular joint) dysfunction is related to a bruxism habit, as well.
There is no comprehensive cure for bruxism, but a variety of tools and treatments are available to ease your discomfort and protect your teeth from further damage. Treatment methods for bruxism include:
- Mouthguards: Detroit dentist Dr. Aziza Askari can design a custom acrylic mouthguard for you to wear to protect your teeth from grinding during sleep. It’s important to wear mouthguards as prescribed and to notify Dr. Askari immediately if any discomfort or bleeding occurs once you begin wearing your mouthguard on a regular basis.
- NTI-tss device: This device covers only the front teeth to prevent the grinding of the rear molars by limiting the contraction of the facial muscles. Dr. Askari will fit you for this device by taking impressions of your teeth to ensure a comfortable fit.
- Botox: As a last resort treatment, Botox can be injected into the muscles to relax them. This treatment is excellent for bruxism because it weakens the facial muscles enough to prevent grinding, but not enough to interfere with everyday functions like chewing, speaking, and smiling.
Dr. Askari also suggests relaxation exercises, stress management education, and biofeedback mechanisms to overcome bruxism.