Just about everyone, except maybe your yoga instructor or Yoda, grinds his or her teeth sometimes. After all, our bosses, kids, job, return to driving on the 405, and other things can drive us crazy. Occasional teeth grinding, medically called bruxism, isn’t really any big deal — you need to clench your teeth occasionally when your boss is being a real idiot. The problem occurs when a person grinds his or her teeth regularly. That can create some real problems with your teeth.
When you come in for your twice-yearly cleanings and exams, Dr. Fong and our hygienists can see evidence of your nightly grinding. We can both address the damage done and help you stop your bruxism.
Why do we do it?
Although some people grind their teeth due to stress or anxiety during the daytime, most people grind their teeth while they sleep. More than stress, bruxism usually has its basis in an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth. It can also happen during sleep apnea.
So, what’s the big deal with grinding your teeth? They’re tough, right?
Your teeth are strong, but they can be broken down by chronic grinding. Bruxism can lead to fracturing, loosening, and eventual loss of teeth. The grinding can wear the teeth down to the point where they have little value. In these cases, bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, even full dentures may be in the grinder’s future.
Severe bruxism also affects your jaws, leading to temporomandibular joint disorder. It can change the appearance of your face.
How do I know if I’m a grinder?
Because most grinding occurs while we sleep, most people don’t know they do it. A dead giveaway is a sore jaw or a dull headache when you wake up. Also, the person next to you in bed can usually hear it.
How do we fix it?
At Dr. Fong’s we can stop most bruxism with night guards. We make each night guard custom to each patient, based on impressions we make of your bite. Night guards don’t restrict breathing, but generally stop grinding.
Leave the grinding to Starbuck’s for today’s special brew. Call Dr. Fong at (714) 549-1903 and let’s get you a night guard.