United Dental Alliance
United Dental Alliance

Why Is Grinding One’s Teeth Becoming More Common?

| September 6, 2012

It is no surprise to most Americans that managing life with all its complexities is becoming more challenging. In fact, it seems that one thing most Americans share is stress. Stress management is certainly individualistic in nature, but finding restful sleep at night is often a sought-after item. It is common that most adults do not get the commended eight hours of sleep at night. A compounding issue is that many individuals do not get restful sleep for the time they are trying to get some shut eye.

One of the most common negative sleep habits is bruxism. Bruxism, or grinding of one’s teeth while sleeping at night, is becoming more and more common. In fact, many researchers are beginning to classify this problem as a habitual behavior or a sleep disorder.

Along with bruxism, a person will often also clench his teeth and jaw. There can be many reasons why one grinds and clenches his teeth at night. Some of these triggers can include medical ailments, unusual stress, or abnormal teeth alignment.

Since stress has been determined to be the most common cause of this condition, the natural remedy is to reduce one’s stress. As simple as this statement is, the reality of reducing stress can be a challenging issue. While an individual should take measures to reduce the amount of stress in one’s life, an immediate treatment that can be implemented is the use of a dental occlusal guard or splint.

This dental approach is best applied with the construction of a customized occlusal splint or mouth appliance. The dental splint or night-time appliance is often referred to as a “night guard.” It is typically constructed of hard acrylic which fits over one’s upper or lower teeth. After custom impressions are taken in a dental office, dental models are used to create the individualized dental splint. It is important that one’s dentist adjusts the splint so that it fits properly and is comfortable to wear.

A dental splint should be created so that all the teeth make contact in a centric stop. As soon as the jaw slides to the anterior or side to side, this eccentric movement should allow for disocclusion of all posterior teeth; the teeth will be allowed to slide and to move without interference. With this ease of motion, jaw and facial muscles are allowed to relax and to “de-program.” This often allows for myofacial tenderness to decrease. As jaw and facial muscles are allowed to relax, the individual will typically experience a reduction in headaches, facial, and jaw pain when awaking. Mitigating tooth destruction and a more restful sleep are often additional benefits of wearing this occlusal dental splint.

For some people abnormal teeth alignment is the cause of bruxism. For these individuals, orthodontics, additive or reductive coronoplasty of the enamel, and/or orthognathic surgery may be needed to remedy one’s improper bite. If there are concerns regarding bruxism, the best person to consult is your dentist. He will provide a valuable resource to guide one through the process of finding solutions to a night-time grinding disorder.

Kendall Wood received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Kendall is a member of the American Dental Association, the Oregon Dental Association, the Southern Willamette Dental Society, American Dental Society of Anesthesiology, and the American Academy of Implant Dentistry.

He has completed the OBI II training course, moderate IV sedation, and OHSU’s maxi implant course. Kendall has completed part I of the fellowship exam for the American Academy of Implant Dentistry and is currently working on completing part II of his implant fellowship credentials. For more information about this topic and many other dental health topics please visit his dental practice website at www.albanydentalhealth.com

Tags: clenching teeth, dental splint, finding restful sleep, grinding teeth, restful sleep, teeth alignment

Category: Patient Care

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