Dr. Ronald Hauptman, DDS and Bahar Rowhani, DDS
311 Park Avenue
Falls Church, VA 22046
Stop the Daily Grind
Stop the Daily Grind
Chances are that at least one person in your family maybe you wears a night guard. More people are wearing night guards than ever before because of an increase in the diagnosis of bruxism, the grinding and clenching of our teeth.
Wearing a night guard can protect your teeth from a multitude of problems caused by bruxism. I have seen patients with their teeth worn down to the gum line from grinding. Some people who break a tooth every year or two dont realize that this is happening because of the pressure of clenching.
Bruxism can even cause gum recession what people used to call getting “long in the tooth.” With clenching, you get notches at the gum line, caused by the constant flexing of the teeth. A night guard can prevent these problems.
What causes bruxism? People often grind their teeth because of stress, and some antidepressants cause bruxism. The main reason for bruxism is when three things the facial muscles, the teeth, and a joint in your jaw called the temperomandibularjoint (TMJ) dont work in harmony. The teeth are the hardest structure in the body, so when we see wear and tear in the teeth, it is a sign of tremendous overload on this three-part system.
If not treated, bruxism can lead to shorter, older looking teeth, arthritic changes in the TMJ, and muscle aches in the head, face, neck, and shoulders. Years ago, because so many patients lost their teeth as they aged, we were never able to see the long term effects of bruxism. The teeth that suffered from excessive wear were simply extracted as they chipped, fractured, or wore down. Now, most people may never lose their teeth since we can repair the chips and we can see the results of 30-40 years of bruxism. This has taught us how to identify it in its earlier stages.
Bruxism or the need for night guards is not a fad. Unfortunately, there is more stress in most of our lives than previous generations might have imagined. Fortunately, we live longer with more teeth. So, maybe we need to slow our lives down a little bit and, if necessary, not forget to pop the night guard in before we go to bed.