The Link between Teeth Grinding, Headaches, and Tooth Wear
There is a direct connection between headaches and teeth grinding (referred to in dentistry as Bruxism). When people clench or grind their teeth, the muscles that control the jaws will become sore from overuse. In addition to tooth wear, this will often cause a number of other symptoms that include tension headaches. Fortunately, patients who suffer from such headaches can now be effectively treated with a special type of dental night guard known as an occlusal guard.
Like many forms of medicine that treat symptoms after the fact, dentistry has long focused on the premature wear that is caused by teeth grinding and clenching. It is estimated that one third of the American population suffer from Bruxism. These people will eventually begin to notice sensitivity cooler temperatures and many types of food. Over time, their teeth become increasingly vulnerable to fractures. Unfortunately, most people do not realize this is happening until later in life, and by that time, they will need advanced cosmetic or restorative dental work.
Technically speaking, bruxism (teeth grinding) is defined as any abnormal contact between the teeth. Normal tooth contact is that which occurs during chewing and swallowing. On the average day, the total amount of contact is only 10-15 minutes combined. However, people who grind teeth may experience tooth contact for as much as 6 hours. In fact, one night of bruxism creates as much tooth contact as 80 days of eating and drinking.
The American Dental Association has published reports stating that 95 percent of all Americans suffer from a grinding or clenching condition at some point in time. Severe cases of bruxism can wear the front teeth so that the person appears to have no teeth at all when he or she smiles. This causes the vertical height between the upper and lower jaws to decrease.
Wrinkles will form on the cheeks and around the front of the mouth because the jaws have come together. This can be remedied with porcelain inlays, onlays, and crowns to restore the proper size and shape of teeth. However, it is much better to treat the condition in its early stages through the use of an occlusal guard.
This special type of nightguard is a hard or soft appliance that fits over the upper and lower teeth to prevent them from having direct contact with each other. Getting a nightguard is easy. The dentist will examine the teeth for signs of clenching and grinding. Worn enamel resulting in exposed dentin is one sign of Bruxism. Another is dental abfraction, where V-shaped notches form in the teeth due to the excessive contact and pressure they experience. The nightguard is then custom-molded to the mouth of the individual patient. The goal is to make wearing the device as comfortable as possible, and to create only enough obstruction in the mouth to prevent the teeth from touching one another.
Using an occlusal nightguard will stop Bruxism this deterioration in its tracks. It is also the most affordable treatment option for patients who grind their teeth and who want to treat the problem before the fact, not after the fact.
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