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Posted on: November 2, 2020
Have Your Teeth Cracked Due to Pandemic-related Stress?
Working from home has become increasingly common due to the coronavirus shutdown and The New York Times reported that cracked teeth are also more common. An increasing number of dental patients have reported migraines, sensitive teeth, and jaw pain, and many have tooth fractures due to clenching and grinding their teeth because of stress.
In times of stress, your dental health can start to suffer if you’re not careful. In light of the situation, with many out of work and others trying to balance the needs of family and work at home and still others negatively impacted by the pandemic, it’s more important to be vigilant about your overall health.
If you’ve noticed that you have been clenching your jaw during the day or grinding your teeth at night, don’t delay in meeting with your dentist.
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism is the term for clenching and grinding your teeth and jaws. Clenching is biting down with sustained, excessive force, while grinding is a back-and-forth motion that can wear down your tooth enamel over time. Although bruxism is a very common disorder, many people are unaware that they have it unless their dentist or sleep partner tells them. Several factors can influence the onset of bruxism, including:
- Youth: Children under the age of 6 years frequently grind their teeth at night.
- Health Conditions: Bruxism is more common in people who have ADHD, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and sleep apnea.
- Intense Personality: Those whose personalities are aggressive, competitive, or hyperactive are more inclined to develop bruxism.
- Personal Habits: Smoking, drinking alcohol, ingesting caffeinated beverages, and some prescription medications can trigger bruxism.
- Emotional Periods: Those who are under a significant amount of stress or are angry or frustrated may experience bruxism.
If you think you have or are developing bruxism, then call our office to schedule an appointment.
Can Daytime Bruxism Be Prevented?
Although the cause of bruxism is still somewhat unclear, researchers believe that it’s a combination of factors that include genetics, physical makeup and psychological predisposition. Whether you have daytime bruxism or you experience it only at night, the following steps can help you to reduce your propensity to develop it:
- Don’t smoke before you go to bed
- Reduce or eliminate your intake of caffeine or alcohol before bedtime
- Use relaxation techniques such as taking a walk or a warm bath, listening to soothing music, or meditating
Can My Dentist Help Prevent Bruxism?
If you have bruxism, then contact our office for an appointment. One of our dentists can fit you for a custom night guard that will protect your teeth and jaw from the effects of grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw. It can also alleviate the pain associated with TMJ syndrome.
What’s the Function of a Night Guard?
A night guard will provide a natural space between your upper and lower jaw that helps to prevent damage to your teeth and jaw that occurs from grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw. A night guard protects your tooth enamel from being worn away and your teeth from becoming cracked due to the pressure of clenching your jaw.
How Does a Night Guard Help With Bruxism?
A night guard helps to maintain your teeth and jaw in proper alignment so that it’s more difficult to grind your teeth and clench your jaw. This will help mitigate morning headaches and jaw pain, soreness in the neck and shoulder, and the onset of TMJ.
What Does TMJ Mean?
TMJ refers to a joint called the temporomandibular joint. TMJ is sometimes used to describe temporomandibular joint syndrome, which is a disorder of the joint connecting your skull and your jawbone. If you have any of the following, you may have temporomandibular joint syndrome:
- Clicking or popping when you close or open your mouth
- Facial edema on one side
- Getting your jaw stuck in one position
- Pain or soreness in the ear, face, jaw, neck, or shoulders
- Problems when chewing or opening your mouth wide
- Sudden pain when biting down
Will a Night Guard Prevent TMJ?
Although a night guard may not prevent TMJ, it can ease the symptoms of it. A custom-fitted night guard is convenient, affordable, and non-invasive, and it can alleviate much of the pain and discomfort of temporomandibular joint syndrome.
Will a Night Guard Prevent Me From Clenching My Jaw?
Although a custom night guard may not stop you from clenching your jaw, it can prevent you from damaging your teeth and jaw.
Where Do I Purchase a Custom Night Guard?
Your dentist is the best resource for a custom-fitted night guard. When you come to the office for your appointment, we’ll make an impression of your teeth and jaw and then send the model to the lab for fabrication. When the completed night guard arrives, you’ll return to have it adjusted for fit and comfort, and then you’ll be done.
How Much Will a Bruxism Night Guard Cost?
Although an over-the-counter night guard can be purchased from a drug store, you’ll be happier with a custom-fitted night guard from your dentist. It may be more expensive initially, but it will be more comfortable, and it will last longer. Custom night guards from a dentist may be covered by your insurance, so your cost may be minimal. Many people complain that their over-the-counter night guards aren’t comfortable, so they don’t wear them. However, when your night guard is custom-fitted to your mouth, it will be more comfortable and won’t fall out during the night. Your custom mouth guard will be far less expensive than the dental bills you can incur by not wearing a night guard.
If you need a custom night guard for your bruxism or TMJ, then call Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - Pinecrest at (703) 940-1886 and schedule an appointment with one of our dentists. We strive to make all of our patients feel comfortable and relaxed, so you know you’ll receive quality service from us. Call us today with any questions or to schedule an appointment. You’ll be glad you did.