Hi, I’m Dr. Heather at HPS Advanced Dental Care. We’re located in Shelby Township, Michigan on 24 Mile. I want to talk a little bit about teeth grinding. Based on the economy as the way it is and stresses that people have, either losing our jobs or things that are going on right now with the current state of the economy, it seems that there’s a lot of stress. And because there’s a lot of stress, stress usually is a contributing factor to grinding your teeth or clenching your teeth. When we see that with our patients grinding and clenching actually does a lot of damage to the tooth structure, as well as the muscles of your face and neck and shoulders and upper back. So I want to touch a little bit today on maybe some ways that we can prevent tooth grinding, and some ways that if you are grinding your teeth to just keep your teeth in a nice, healthy state so that we don’t do any more destruction to them. I always like to tell my patients the story about my father who was grinding his teeth throughout his whole life. And I wish a dentist would’ve told him 20 years ago. But, you know what? Probably should do something about this teeth grinding to protect your teeth. If you wear a bite guard at night or do something to relieve the stress because we recently just put crowns on all of my father’s teeth, which was a big undertaking. But he had worn his teeth down to the point so much that they were just kind of little stumps of teeth anymore. And he was getting ringing of his ears which were causing a lot of problems for him. It’s called tinnitus, the ringing in your ears. And it was because his jaw was over-collapsed because he had ground his teeth so much.
So some easy ways people that come in and maybe they think they’re clenching and grinding. Some easy ways we can usually tell that you might be clenching or grinding your teeth is if you wake up in the morning and you have pain here in your muscles of your face. Usually it’s, we call them the maseter muscles which are right here on the side of your face. People might point to their jaw joint and say you know what, that’s painful. Sometimes people will notice that they have the ringing in their ears. Sometimes the back of their neck and their upper shoulders, and these are all classic signs of grinding and clenching your teeth. The other thing is sometimes people will say, I keep my wife or my husband up all night because they are constantly or hitting me saying, stop grinding your teeth. That’s an easy way to know that you’re grinding your teeth. If you think you’re grinding, sometimes people either do it during the day, if you’re stressed, you’re driving in traffic, or if you’re sitting at the computer or something, you have a project that you’re working on, you might be doing the same thing. Clenching and grinding.
If you’re awake and you’re doing it try to tell yourself to stop. I know that’s hard I’m a cruncher and a grinder too so, or at least I use to be so it’s kind of hard to break that habit. Well, one of the things I tell patients. It’s an easy thing to do, is kind of just a self-hypnosis thing. When you go to bed at night just tell yourself not to grind your teeth. And sometimes that will work a lot. If you have any other questions about that, please give our office a call. One of the other things, if that doesn’t seem to be working out, is we can make you an appliance that you wear at night so that it protects your teeth. A lot of people say, well I don’t think I’m going to wear that, or I don’t think I’m going to like wearing that, or something like this and I can appreciate that because I have one that I wear at night.
I guess you have to weigh the benefits and disadvantages. I mean if you wear it consistently you protect your teeth. You protect them from getting worn down like my father’s, which later in life can cause a lot of costly dental work to be done or you can even potentially break a tooth. And we’ve been seeing patients more recently than in the past breaking teeth probably because they’re clenching and grinding. So we want to make sure we protect our teeth and not be putting those undue forces on them. If you have any questions about clenching or grinding or, bite splints or night guards, everybody calls them something different. Give us a call at our office, 248-652-0024.