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Rye Smiles for Life
10614 Warwick Avenue, Ste A, Fairfax, VA 22030

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Are Cracked Teeth on the Rise?

The media are reporting dentists are seeing an uptick in individuals coming in with cracked teeth and complaining of headaches and jaw pain. Dentists are blaming COVID-19 stress for causing individuals to clench their jaw and grind their teeth at night. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls pandemic-induced anxiety a real problem, but dental problems are an unforeseen consequence of anxiety.

What Does Bruxism Mean?

Bruxism is a medical term used to describe a tendency to clench your jaw or grind your teeth. It can occur when you are awake or asleep. There are a number of things that can lead to bruxism, and most people that grind their teeth at night won’t know until their dentist points out the problem. For those that clench their teeth during the day, you may notice yourself doing it or start experiencing headaches.

People who have bruxism tend to:

  • Younger, young children are especially affected
  • Use tobacco
  • Drink alcohol heavily
  • Consume a lot of caffeine daily
  • Be overly competitive
  • Be frustrated
  • Have demanding jobs
  • Have an abnormal bite
  • Have a family history of bruxism

You can permanently damage your teeth if you grind them because the enamel will wear off and leave your teeth vulnerable to decay and damage. You also may get headaches, earaches and your jaw may ache.

Do People Ever Clench Their Teeth During the Day?

Yes, although they rarely ever grind their teeth during the day. Individuals mainly clench their teeth in response to anger or frustration. If you clench your teeth during the day, you need to find another way to deal with the stress that won’t harm your oral or physical health. Stress relieving tactics that work for some include:

  • Exercising
  • Going for a walk
  • Listening to music
  • Limiting your caffeine intake
  • Meditation
  • Writing in a journal

How Will a Dentist Help?

Are you suffering from symptoms of bruxism? If so, please contact us to arrange a consultation with one of our dentists. He or she can find a way to alleviate the symptoms and prevent you from doing further damage to your teeth.

What Are Night Guards for Bruxism?

Night guards look similar to a teeth whitening tray. There are ones made from rubber or acrylic. Your dentist can help you choose the right type of night mouth guard for your needs. Some night guards are soft plastic, some are both soft and hard, and some are rigid. Mouth guards for bruxism come in various thicknesses. Your dentist will suggest the thinnest mouth guard that offers the protection you need.

How Do Bruxism Guards Work?

Night guards, also known as bite plates, place a physical barrier between your teeth. While they are not meant to prevent you from grinding your teeth, the hard acrylic ones your dentists fits you with discourage grinding behavior. You rest your teeth on it, so there is no instinct to clench or gnash your teeth together. You should still address the underlying cause of your bruxism.

What Is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?

Simply put, your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge that operates your jaw. A large percentage of Americans have a disorder affecting how the joint operates, primarily caused by trauma or bruxism, one of which is preventable. Symptoms of a TMJ disorder may include:

  • Pain radiating from the jaw
  • Jaw stiffness
  • Lock jaw
  • Popping or clicking noises from your jaw
  • Your teeth fit together differently

Do Night Guards Help with Jaw Pain from TMJ?

You can strain the joints in your jaw when you grind your teeth at night. A night mouth guard can relieve the stain and alleviate the pain associated with TMJ syndrome. Your dentist may also suggest stress management and behavioral changes to help you stop grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw.

How Can a Night Guard Help Me If I Clench My Teeth?

The main reason dentists suggest a night guard is to reduce damage to your teeth. It stops the enamel wear and prevents accidental damage, such as a fractured tooth or restoration. Night guards can also prevent morning pain and headaches. This can be a useful tool to help you avoid clenching your teeth at night, and it might have an impact on your behavior during the day.

How Do I Get a Custom-made Night Guard?

If you want a custom, professionally fitted, night mouth guard, visit a dentist. He or she will take an impression of your teeth, so the dental lab can make a mold to create a custom acrylic mouth guard. Once your dentist verifies it fits perfectly, it is very easy to get used to wearing.

You can buy a bruxism mouth guard at a local store or online, but it won’t be made for your mouth. The soft ones promise a comfortable fit, but they are not nearly as effective as a custom crafted mouth guard from the dentist. They are also not durable, so they won’t protect your teeth from damage for long.

What Will a Tailor-made Night Guard Cost?

One of our dentists can give you an estimate of the price of a custom bruxism night guard. He or she will need to perform an exam first to determine the best device for your unique needs. Consider the cost for a night guard an investment in protecting your natural teeth, considering them valuable assets which are expensive to replace. Mouth guards can also help protect restorations, such as fillings and porcelain crowns.

At Rye Smiles for Life, we pride ourselves on being there for our patients through pandemics, broken teeth and more. If you’re under stress and believe you grind your teeth at night or can feel yourself clenching your teeth during the day, we’d like to hear from you. Whether we need to create a custom mouth guard for you to protect your teeth or walk you through the options available for replacing teeth, we’ll do it together.

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Rye Smiles for Life

10614 Warwick Avenue, Ste A, Fairfax, VA 22030

(703) 565-2503