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Are Cracked Teeth on the Rise?

Prolonged psychological stress from the current pandemic seems to be the cause of an increasing number of people’s dental problems, such as fractured teeth, cracked fillings and loose veneers. Recently, The New York Times published an interesting piece about how more and more dentists across the country are noticing an uptick in people seeking dental care services for cracked or broken teeth.

When we’re worried our jobs, our kids attending school virtually or our family’s health, the stress can last throughout the day and night. Stress and anxiety are the usual culprits when individuals grind their teeth at night or clench their jaw during the day. People are putting off routine exams during the pandemic, not giving their dentist a chance to catch the signs of teeth grinding before it does lasting or painful damage, like fracturing a tooth.

What Is Nighttime Bruxism?

Bruxism is when you clench or grind your teeth during your sleep. Grinding your teeth involves holding them tightly together and then moving your jaw. It’s often an unconscious reaction to anxiety or stress. Other issues can cause bruxism, such as misaligned teeth, missing teeth or other dental conditions.

Certain types of people are more likely to engage in teeth grinding or jaw clenching in their sleep to deal with stress, including individuals who:

  • Consume large quantities of caffeine each day
  • Are smokers and people who drink alcohol
  • Have aggressive personalities
  • Don’t handle stress well
  • Have sleep apnea
  • Have ADHD
  • Get frustrated easily

What If I Clench My Teeth During the Day?

There are people who clench their teeth during the day as a response to anger or anxiety without realizing what they are doing. Once they realize their response, they can consciously relax their muscles. Dentists often suggest stress relieving strategies to their patients, such as:

  • Taking a walk
  • Visiting a park
  • Walking their dog
  • Deep breathing
  • Exercise
  • Engaging in a favorite hobby
  • Imagining yourself on a beach

If you notice you are clenching your jaw during the day, also consider not drinking as much caffeine or alcohol. You should also stop smoking if you are a smoker, especially before bed.

How Can Our Experienced Dentists Help?

Our dentists can determine if a dental issue you’re having, such as a fractured tooth, is an indication of bruxism. We can offer custom-made night guards to protect your teeth from further damage and help prevent headaches and jaw pain. We can answer your questions and offer advice about stress relief tactics. Please call us today if you suspect you have bruxism.

What Is a Professionally Fitted Night Mouth Guard?

You can buy cheap night guards in stores and online, but they are not the same as the one a dentist provides. A custom-made mouth guard fits perfectly as it is made just for you. It will be comfortable, so you will be more likely to use it every night. Professionally fitted night mouth guards are also made from durable materials that will provide the protection you need to preserve your teeth.

Why Should I Wear a Mouth Guard for Teeth Grinding?

If you engage in long-term teeth grinding, you’ll wear your teeth down. You can also wear the enamel off your teeth, leaving them vulnerable to decay and other dental issues. You can chip or crack a tooth or one of your restorations, like a filling or porcelain crown, resulting in an expensive and time-intensive fix. Adding a dental issue to your current list of worries is probably the last thing anyone wants right now. Wearing a night guard is much easier and less costly than repairing a tooth or restoration.

What Is Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome?

TMJ syndrome is when you have a problem with your temporomandibular joints. These are the joints that are the hinges for your jaw, connecting it to your skull. Typical causes of TMJ syndrome include teeth grinding, trauma or an uneven bite. If you have TMJ syndrome, you may be experiencing:

  • Jaw pain or face pain near your ear
  • Your jaw pops or clicks when you move it
  • Trouble opening your mouth fully
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Jaw locking

Can a Bruxism Mouth Guard Provide TMJ Jaw Pain Relief?

A custom-made mouth guard from a dentist can eliminate the stress teeth grinding puts on your temporomandibular joints. Your dentist may also suggest relaxation techniques to help relieve the stress that is causing your bruxism.

Why Is a Night Mouth Guard Important for Jaw Clenching?

Your jaw can place an incredible strain on your teeth and temporomandibular joints. Without a night guard to provide a cushion, you can wake up with headaches, jaw and facial pain, among other things.

How Do I Get a Professionally Fitted Bruxism Guard?

You have to see a dentist for a professionally fitted night guard. He or she will create an impression of your teeth to send to the dental lab that will fabricate the night guard. It’s made from a mold created from the impression so it fits your mouth and teeth perfectly. After you receive your custom-made appliance, your dentist will show you how to clean it between uses. He or she can also request you bring your mouth guard in every so often to make sure it is still in good shape.

What Does a Nighttime Mouth Guard Cost?

Your cost will depend on the type of night guard your dentist feels is best for you and the materials it is constructed from. If you come in for an exam, one of our experienced dentists can determine your needs and offer a quote. Please inform us if you have dental insurance coverage, which may cover some of the cost.

If you notice a cracked tooth or any other sign you may have started grinding your teeth, please contact us. At Tioga Dental & Orthodontics, we strive to serve our patients with the highest quality dental care in a warm, friendly setting. If you have developed bruxism, we can help you protect your teeth and suggest stress reducing activities.

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