Clenching or Grinding Teeth
Often overlooked, clenching and grinding of the teeth can cause serious ongoing dental problems that will only be properly resolved if the root causes – the clenching and grinding – are addressed, rather than their effects.
A common nighttime problem is clenching or grinding of the teeth. Clenching is far more prevalent and subtle than grinding, and many patients are unaware that they are damaging their teeth on a nightly basis. If left untreated, this habit can cause loose teeth, cracked and/or broken teeth or restorations, gum recession, or TMJ. It can also accelerate bone loss when periodontal disease is present or damage new dental implants.
While clenching or grinding is often triggered by stress, it can also be caused by teeth that come together improperly. In this case, your body will try to wear away the parts of the tooth that cause the issue. However, this takes many years to accomplish and often causes more serious problems, as mentioned above.
The most important side effect of clenching/grinding teeth is the fact that until it is addressed, all other treatments are compromised and are much less effective. Therefore, Dr. Carbonaro prioritizes the treatment of this habit before moving on to the rest of your individualized treatment plan.
There are two ways to address clenching and grinding of the teeth, and they are normally used in tandem to maximize treatment success.
The first is to create a nighttime oral appliance that will cover some of your upper teeth and protect them from grinding against the lower teeth. Dr. Carbonaro will take an imprint of your teeth to send to the lab, where a mouth guard will be fashioned to fit your mouth. At the next appointment, Dr. Carbonaro will make sure the guard fits properly. You can then begin to wear your guard nightly to protect your teeth.
Another option includes occlusal adjustment, which eliminates the small interferences that prevent your teeth from lining up as they should. By having you bite down on a piece of mylar paper, Dr. Carbonaro will identify which very small parts of your teeth need to be gently shaved down to help your jaw align naturally.
To fully accomplish the desired outcome, several appointments may be needed, with time in between to ascertain the effectiveness of the most recent treatment. The treatment is minimally invasive and does not require anesthesia.