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Ballston Dental Arts
900 N Taylor Street, Suite 150, Arlington, VA 22203

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Has the Pandemic Cracked Your Teeth?

The New York Times recently reported that dentists saw an increase in the incidence of cracked teeth during the early part of the coronavirus shutdown. Patients were complaining of tooth and jaw pain as well as migraines, and one dentist was alarmed by the number of fractured teeth that were caused by grinding and clenching the teeth. Bruxism is the medical term for clenching and grinding the teeth, and it can have severe side effects if not treated by a dentist.

What’s Meant by Bruxism?

The medical term for grinding and clenching your teeth is bruxism, and it can cause severe damage to the teeth and jaw if it’s not treated. When treated promptly, then the side effects can be mitigated, although the damage may be irreversible. Many people have this condition but aren’t aware of it until they’re informed by their dentist or sleep partner.

Bruxism can cause migraines, morning headaches, erosion of the tooth enamel, decay, increased tooth sensitivity, sleep disruption, and pain in the face, jaw, and neck. If you habitually waken with a headache and pain in your jaw or face, you may have bruxism. Factors that can trigger the onset of bruxism include:

  • Youth: Many children who are less than 6 years old grind their teeth at night.
  • Personality Traits: Those who are very aggressive, competitive, or hyperactive have a higher incidence of jaw clenching.
  • Personal Habits: Smoking, drinking alcohol or caffeine, and taking some psychiatric medications can cause bruxism.
  • Medical Conditions: Those who have ADHD, epilepsy, sleep apnea or Parkinson’s disease have a higher incidence of bruxism.
  • Emotional State: Those who are very emotionally stressed, frustrated, or angry may be more inclined to clench their jaw and grind their teeth.

Are There Ways to Stop Bruxism During the Day?

Daytime bruxism is often equated with the stresses of daily life, but there is no valid research to support this claim. Researchers posit that it can be triggered by a combination of factors such as genetics, psychological tendencies, and physical composition.

Whether your bruxism occurs during the daytime or at night, there are steps you can take to reduce its frequency, such as:
Quit smoking or at least don’t smoke before bedtime
Reduce your alcohol and caffeine intake, especially before bedtime
Practice relaxation techniques such as meditating, taking a walk or a hot bath, or listening to soft music

Can Your Dentist Help You?

If you suspect that you have bruxism or you’ve been told that you have it, then call our office for an appointment. A custom-fitted night guard can protect your teeth from the harmful effects of bruxism, and one of our dentists can fit you for a mouth guard. Although it isn’t a cure for bruxism, it can prevent further damage to your teeth and jaw. If you’re interested in a custom-fitted night guard, then call our office for an appointment.

What’s a Night Guard?

A bruxism night guard looks similar to the whitening trays used for teeth. It provides the necessary space between your upper and lower jaw, which prevents further damage from tooth grinding and clenching your jaw.

Why Do I Need a Night Guard at Night?

If you wear a bruxism night guard while you’re sleeping, you’re less likely to wake with a headache or a sore and aching jaw. It will protect the enamel on your teeth as well as any dental restoration work that you have.

What Does TMJ Mean?

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint and TMJ syndrome is a disorder of the joint that connects your jaw to your skull. That joint is known as the temporomandibular joint, thus the name. Symptoms of TMJ include:

  • Trouble chewing or opening your mouth wide
  • Having your jaw stuck in one position
  • Unilateral facial edema
  • Pain or soreness in the areas of the ear, face, neck, jaw, or shoulders
  • Sudden pain when you bite down
  • Popping or clicking when you close or open your mouth

Does a Night Guard Prevent TMJ?

A bruxism night guard is a convenient and affordable treatment for TMJ, although your dentist may have other treatments that will eliminate the cause of TMJ. A night guard is more effective at alleviating the side effects of pain and headache that accompany TMJ rather than correcting the disorder.

Is A Night Guard the Best Prevention for Jaw Clenching?

A night guard is a convenient and affordable method for eliminating the negative effects of clenching your jaw. Night guards are available at your local pharmacy, but a custom-fitted night guard will be more effective as well as more cost-effective over time. A custom-fitted night guard will be:

  • Made to the exact specifications of your teeth and gums
  • Of higher quality materials and construction
  • Longer lasting
  • More comfortable

Since it’s more comfortable, you’ll be more likely to wear it, and since it’s customized to your mouth, it won’t fall out at night. It won’t affect your speech or your breathing, but it will protect your teeth and jaw.

Who Sells Custom Night Guards?

Your dentist is the best source for a custom-fitted night guard. You’ll need to make an appointment, and during your office visit, we’ll make an impression of your teeth and gums and send the impression to the lab for fabrication. When your completed night guard arrives in our office, you’ll return to have it adjusted for comfort and fit, and then you’ll be done. If you have more questions or want to schedule an appointment, then give us a call.

How Much Do Custom Bruxism Night Guards Cost?

As with any dental procedure or appliance, the cost of your custom mouth guard will be unique to you, but it will depend on the type of device you select, the materials used, and your insurance coverage. A custom-fitted mouth guard is more expensive initially than an over-the-counter model, but it will last longer, and you’ll wear it more often. It’s considerably less expensive and less invasive than dental restoration work. Since your insurance may cover the cost of a custom-fitted night guard, you may actually spend less than you would for an over-the-counter model, depending on your insurance plan.

If you want to eliminate the damage of bruxism with a custom-fitted night guard, then call Ballston Dental Arts at (703) 291-3111 and schedule an appointment. We do our utmost to make our patients comfortable, so you can be confident about the service you’ll receive. Call us today; we look forward to working with you.

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(703) 291-3111

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