Dr. Keen and our staff will evaluate your teeth for signs of wear that may indicate you grind or clench your teeth. This grinding or clenching may occur when you are not aware of it, such as during your sleep. This habit is known as bruxism.
Night-time grinding or clenching may negatively affect your teeth and your TMJ (Temporo-Mandibular Joint). The TMJ is the joint located directly in front of your right and left ears. As you open and close your mouth, you can feel the joint moving. Consistent long-term grinding and clenching from stress or a bad habit may cause the joint to make sounds when you open or close your mouth, such as clicking or popping.
Grinding and clenching creates a lot of physical stress on the teeth, the gums, the jaw bones, the TMJ and the muscles of the face. The high forces generated from the grinding or clenching can cause gum recession and tooth loosening, increase the incidence of tooth fractures and crack lines, cause muscle spasms and irritate your TMJ. In severe cases, some people have difficulty opening their mouth normally, and experience significant muscle pain and headaches.
You may be a good candidate for a protective night-guard to prevent further negative effects from grinding or clenching. The night-guard will preserve the health of your teeth, prevent harmful wear of the natural tooth structure, and minimize further gum recession. More significantly, it will minimize permanent trauma and injury to the jaw muscles and joints (TMJ).
There are a variety of styles of night-guards that Dr. Keen prescribes and fabricates for his patients. The style, shape and hardness of night-guard depends on the symptoms you exhibit and the specific purpose of the night-guard. In some cases, the night-guard is prescribed to resolve joint symtoms, whereas in other cases, it may be simply to protect the teeth and gums.
Ask Dr. Keen about which night-guard is best for you.