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Do you grind your teeth? If you're not sure, ask your family—sometimes the sound of teeth grinding against teeth might make enough noise to be keeping them up at night. You might also be waking with sore jaw muscles and joints.
If you suspect you have this habit of involuntarily grinding, gnashing or clenching your teeth, it's a good idea to get it checked. Here are 3 things you should know about this odd habit.
Teeth-grinding more prevalent among children. Children are more likely than adults to grind their teeth in their sleep, thought to be a consequence of their developing swallowing mechanism, but usually grow out of it without any long-term effects. Adults with the habit seem to grind their teeth for different reasons, one of the most significant being a response to high stress. Tobacco could be another factor: users are twice as likely as non-users to grind their teeth. Adult teeth-grinding may also be associated with high caffeine consumption, illicit drug use or Parkinson's Disease, which impairs brain nerve function.
Sleep apnea can be an underlying cause. There's one other major underlying cause to add to that list: obstructive sleep apnea. One international study of thousands of patients from different countries found both high anxiety or stress and sleep-related breathing disorders were two of the most significant risk factors for adult teeth-grinding. It's believed the physical stress generated by these temporary episodes of breathing obstruction occurring several times a night could trigger teeth-grinding.
Teeth-grinding can cause dental problems. While having a teeth-grinding habit doesn't automatically mean you'll have dental issues, your risk can increase dramatically. Due to its chronic nature, teeth-grinding can lead to excessive tooth wear, dental work damage or jaw joint dysfunction. In some extreme cases, it could cause tooth fracture.
If you grind your teeth, your dentist may be able to help by creating a custom-made occlusal guard that can reduce biting forces while you're wearing it. You might also minimize teeth-grinding by quitting tobacco and other lifestyle changes, or getting a better handle on stress management. And if you're also diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, getting treatment for that condition will not only improve your overall health, it could help put an end to your teeth-grinding habit.
If you would like more information on bruxism, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Grinding: Causes and Therapies for a Potentially Troubling Behavior.”
Losing a tooth can be traumatic, but a dental implant can dramatically turn that experience around. Providing functionality, life-like appearance and durability, implants stand out as the premier restoration for lost teeth.
For adults, that is. An older child or teenager with a missing tooth may need to wait a few more years for an implant. The reason: jaw development. A person's jaws, particular the upper jaw, continue to grow with most growth completed by early adulthood. Natural teeth with their periodontal attachments develop right alongside the jaw.
But because an implant attaches directly to the jawbone, its position is fixed: it won't change as the jaw grows and may gradually appear to sink below the gum line. That's why we wait to place an implant until most of jaw maturity has occurred after full jaw maturity. For females, we try to wait until 20 years of age and for males, usually 21 years of age. These are guidelines as some people mature faster and some slower, so a discussion with your dentist or surgeon is necessary to make an educated decision.
While we wait, we can install a temporary replacement for a child's or teenager's lost tooth, usually a partial denture or fixed modified ("Maryland") bridge. The latter affixes a prosthetic (false) tooth in the missing tooth space by attaching it to the back of natural teeth on either side with bonded dental material. It differs from a traditional bridge in that these supporting teeth aren't permanently altered and crowned to support the bridge.
During the time before implants we should understand that the area where the implant will be placed will undergo some bone deterioration, a common consequence of missing teeth. Forces generated as we chew travel through the teeth to stimulate renewing bone growth all along the jawbone. But with a lost tooth the chewing stimulation ceases at that part of the bone, slowing the growth rate and leading to gradual bone loss.
Fortunately, the titanium posts of dental implants stimulate bone growth as bone cells naturally grow and adhere to their surfaces. Before then, though, if the bone volume is diminished, we may need to graft bone material to stimulate bone growth that will enlarge the jaw bone enough for an implant to be placed.
It usually isn't a question of "if" but "when" we can provide your child with an implant for their missing tooth. In the meantime, we can prepare for that day with a temporary restoration.
If you would like more information on dental restorations for teenagers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants for Teenagers.”
At the first-ever Players Weekend in August 2017, Major League Baseball players wore jerseys with their nicknames on the back. One player — Cleveland Indians shortstop, Francisco Lindor — picked the perfect moniker to express his cheerful, fun-loving nature: “Mr. Smile.” And Lindor gave fans plenty to smile about when he belted a 2-run homer into the stands while wearing his new jersey!
Lindor has explained that he believes smiling is an important part of connecting with fans and teammates alike: “I’ve never been a fan of the guy that makes a great play and then acts like he’s done it 10,000 times — smile, man! We’ve got to enjoy the game.”
We think Lindor is right: Smiling is a great way to generate good will. And it feels great too… as long as you have a smile that’s healthy, and that looks as good as you want it to. But what if you don’t? Here are some things we can do at the dental office to help you enjoy smiling again:
Routine Professional Cleanings & Exams. This is a great place to start on the road toward a healthy, beautiful smile. Even if you are conscientious about brushing and flossing at home, you won’t be able to remove all of the disease-causing dental plaque that can hide beneath the gum line, especially if it has hardened into tartar, but we can do it easily in the office. Then, after a thorough dental exam, we can identify any problems that may be affecting your ability to smile freely, such as tooth decay, gum disease, or cosmetic dental issues.
Cosmetic Dental Treatments. If your oral health is good but your smile is not as bright as you’d like it to be, we can discuss a number of cosmetic dental treatments that can help. These range from conservative procedures such as professional teeth whitening and bonding to more dramatic procedures like porcelain veneers or crowns.
Tooth Replacement. Many people hide their smiles because they are embarrassed by a gap from a missing tooth. That’s a shame, because there are several excellent tooth-replacement options in a variety of price ranges. These include partial and full dentures, bridgework, and dental implants. So don’t let a missing tooth stop you from being Mr. (or Ms.) Smile!
If you’d like more information about oral health or cosmetic dentistry, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Beautiful Smiles by Design” and “The Impact of a Smile Makeover.”
Your teeth and jaws under pressure
Do you clench your teeth when you are feeling stressed? Do you wake up with a headache? Do your jaw muscles hurt? Talk to your dentist. You may have a habit called bruxism.
WHAT IS BRUXISM?
Bruxism is a habit during which you grind your teeth or clench or thrust your jaw forward over and over again. This habit can affect your oral health. It can cause teeth to break or crack, and increase the chance of gum problems. Adults are not the only ones affected. Studies have found that this can be a problem in children as young as preschool aged.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
Researches do not know for sure what causes people to do this. Some think stress could be a factor. In preschoolers, studies find an association between grinding their teeth or clenching their jaws and signs of stress as anxiety or social withdrawal.
Children also can develop this habit when they are losing their baby teeth and their permanent teeth are coming in. Nail biting also may lead to grinding of teeth or jaw clenching. Some children outgrow this, but often adults who grind their teeth or clench their jaws did so as children.
Like many habits, you may be unaware that you do this. You may even do it in your sleep. Tobacco and alcohol use may increase your chances of doing this when you are sleeping. Large amounts of caffeine- for example, 8 or more cups of coffee a day- also can increase this risk. Some medications or illegal drugs may cause users to grind their teeth or clench or thrust their jaws as well.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
You should talk to your dentist if you notice any of the following:
- Jaw pain
- Headaches when you wake up;
- Teeth sensitivity to hot or cold drinks or food;
- Chipped teeth and fillings.
A number of things can contribute to the problem of buxism, and there has not been a lot of research on how best to treat it. Your dentist may suggest some options, such as
- Decreasing or quitting tobacco use:
- Limiting how much caffeine you eat or drink;
- Seeking counseling to help you identify when you are doing it while you are awake and to develop ways to relax;
- Looking at the medications you take and talking to your physician about other options.
Your dentist also may talk to you about using an oral appliance, which is a plastic tray that fits over either your top or bottom teeth. Use of an appliance may help reduce grinding, clenching, and thrusting and may protect your teeth and gums.
-JADA February 2018
Dentistry is changing and improving at lightning speed. Past dental experiences that may have worried or scared you can now be just a fading memory. With new technology, not only can dentistry be delivered in different ways, it also has healthier results.
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The days of whiny drills, messy impressions and bad smells are over. Today, impressions created by digitally scanning the mouth can eliminate gagging and choking. Same day crowns also reduce the need for multiple injections. The dental office is now a place of tiny injectors, aromatherapy and new technology. The potential of a better look and better life with a smile you love.
Becoming an informed consumer can help in eliminating dental phobias and fear. Get your new smile today, with a better more relaxing experience. Because Your Smile Says So Much About You.