Many people experience a condition called bruxism. Bruxism is the unconscious, involuntary reflex of clenching and grinding the teeth. Most people experiencing bruxism are unaware it's occurring. The clenching and grinding may occur during the day or night and is usually associated with stress. Bruxism is known to cause abnormalities and pain in the teeth, muscles, and joints in the jaw.
Bruxism can be so severe that the teeth are worn down and become shorter. Flattening of the teeth is another sign of bruxism. People who grind their teeth are also at risk of wearing through the enamel down to the dentin which is an interior part of the tooth. Sensitivity to cold and difficulty chewing may result from bruxism. Left untreated, a person experiencing bruxism is at risk of grinding their teeth down to the gum. Pressure and wear caused by bruxism may also bring the onset of stress and pain on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
In most cases, a nightguard is the recommended treatment for bruxism. Worn at night, the guard is formed to fit around the teeth which provides a layer of protection between the upper and lower teeth. Since the upper and lower teeth are not in direct contact, the effects of clenching and grinding which wears down the teeth is eliminated. Nightguards may also significantly reduce other simptoms related to pain or TMJ.
If you are experiencing involuntary clenching and grinding or if you notice pain in the mouth or jaw due to bruxism, call (207) 947-4767 or schedule an appointment with Dr. Carreira to determine whether a nightguard is right for you.
An example of a nightguard used in the treatment of bruxism.