Blog 1: By David Matson
Did you ever really look at your teeth? I mean really look at them up close? Can you see signs of tooth grinding or signs of abnormal wear? Do you know what you are looking for? Is there something about your smile that just seems older or different?
These are questions that you probably don’t ask yourself very often but it may be a good idea to take a real close look at your teeth and see if you notice any changes. Tooth grinding is a pretty common occurrence and most all of us do it to some extent, and some much more than others. You might notice that your front teeth seem more translucent near the tips or they seem more square across the bottoms (tops for the lower teeth). Maybe you can notice some vertical or even horizontal cracks in them when you dry them off. Corners can chip and even fillings are in danger of fracturing or falling out. Back teeth can fracture or just wear down. These are all signs of tooth grinding and they can be readily noticeable.
Some people grind periodically and some do it all the time. Although it can be done during the day it is most destructive when it is done at night. You don’t know you are doing it at night and that is when the forces are most destructive. If you catch yourself doing it during the day you can stop. It is hard to catch yourself while you sleep. Your hygienist and dentist should notice signs of tooth grinding and bring it to your attention. Many people wear a night guard when they sleep to prevent tooth wear or at least minimize it as much as possible. It is much less expensive to prevent wear and fractures than it is to rebuild something that has worn or broken.
There are many types of night guards and you can certainly find them in the drug store or retail chain. One of the most common complaints that we hear about the over the counter appliances is that “I have tried it but I can’t sleep with one of those things”. These over the counter night guards are not custom fit to your mouth. A one-size-fits-all soft plastic piece is molded in hot water and supposed to fit you. It can’t happen and never will. Tooth grinders or patients with jaw joint problems need to have a professionally made night guard that will not move and provide solid protection against the deleterious effects of grinding. It must fit comfortably to your own mouth or you can’t and won’t use it.
If you think you are grinding your teeth on a more consistent basis let us take a look and see if we can help you. It is just one of the tools that we have to help you keep your smile looking young.
Here are some examples of over the counter night guards that will not do a very good job of protecting your teeth. The one on the far left claims that it will protect teeth and dental work from clenching and grinding. It does indicate that your bite might change and that you should not use for more than three months without consulting your dentist.
The one in the middle comes 14 to a pack and says it meets the “demanding needs of both clenchers and grinders” but you are instructed not to wear for more than 3 nights before changing to the next one. The mouthguard on the right is one that you boil to “custom fit” your mouth. We find that these are generally too bulky, unstable and thus uncomfortable to wear. If it is uncomfortable you won’t wear it.
A nightguard should be a comfortable appliance that you can wear without hassle. If it is indicated it must be worn every night to protect your teeth and dental work. If you feel that we can help you with this don’t hesitate to call and ask.