Some people are aware that they grind or clench their teeth—most are not. Grinding often takes place at the subconscious level and is generally more pronounced during sleep. A thorough dental exam will often reveal evidence of grinding/clenching (bruxism) in the form of tooth wear, chipping, or notching along the gum-line. Damage ranges from mild to extreme. In some cases there can be a heavy, localized overgrowth of the jaw bone. Contributing factors can be stress, aggression, habit patterns, sports activity, caffeine, antidepressant medications, and drug abuse.
Bruxism can overload the joints and/or musculature of the jaw with resultant pain, spasm, headache, or fatigue.
We will often recommend a custom fitted night-guard or sport-guard appliance to help control the ravages of bruxism. Appliances are designed to distribute, moderate, and absorb the excessive forces, or to reduce the amount of pressure that can be applied. With regular use, progressive damage can be controlled or prevented.
Examples of custom-designed night-guard and sport-guard appliances: