One of the most common habits that humans have is the likelihood of grinding our teeth, or clenching our jaw. Even a quick change of emotion can trigger the mouth to snap shut. And if you struggle with anxiety, it may manifest through unconscious jaw activity.
When this activity is severe enough to cause damage to the mouth, it is referred to as the medical condition bruxism. For most people, it never becomes an issue, just a physical quirk about themselves. For others, however, it can be a serious medical concern, and it is important to know when to seek advice from a dentist or similar trained skilled individual.
Today, your Cerritos, CA dentist describes some of the activity that can become troublesome, the problems it can lead to, and when to seek help!
What Is Bruxism?
Essentially, it is the unconscious collision of the teeth in some form. This can take the shape of clenching, gnashing, grinding, and more. There are two forms of the condition, one occurring during waking hours and the other while asleep. For those who do this while sleeping, the activity may go unimpeded for hours, causing significant wear and damage to the mouth.
How Much Damage?
Bruxism can cause massive damage if not treated, to various parts of the mouth. To the teeth themselves, damage and wear increase by a remarkable amount. The tops of the molars may become flattened, with the teeth losing their definition. With the incisors and canines, this will show as shortening, and can lead to stubby, unattractive teeth. Both of these can lead to the need for a root canal, if the pulp has become exposed to bacteria outside.
This action may be leading to the misalignment of your smile, as well. The motions you are prone to do are specific to you alone, and those habits show the history of wear over time. Your smile may slide from side to side, or a favored section may shift. If these progress further, jaw surgery may become necessary. We always want to catch problems such as these as soon as possible, as there is less restoration needed in your mouth’s structures.
What Can Help?
While we are mostly unable to simply cease your unconscious activity, as oral health professionals, we can protect the mouth from yourself. The best way to do this is through the use of night guards, which are worn while you sleep. There are two primary forms of night guards, boil-and-bite and custom mouthguards.
Boil-and-bite guards are available to you at any drugstore or supermarket, and they operate just like their name. They are made of thermoplastic and you soak them in hot water as they soften. After the suggested time, you take it and bite directly down, keeping hold for a set time. The mold is then used as a buffer between your jaws to prevent clashing.
Custom mouthguards are also available, and they have the benefit of being smaller and more unobtrusive. They can also be more comfortable, and even clear so that if needed to be worn during the day, it will be less noticeable.
ABOUT YOUR CERRITOS, CA, ORAL SURGEON:
Dr. Shawn Hofkes and the staff at Cerritos Dental Surgery are highly qualified to address complex issues, including those that require oral surgery to correct. To schedule an appointment or consultation with Dr. Hofkes, contact us today by calling 562-584-4082. We proudly welcome patients of all ages from Cerritos, CA, and all surrounding communities, such as Lakewood, Long Beach, Buena Park, and more.