Tooth Grinding and Nightguards in Northport, NY
Our teeth are elegantly designed. They are shaped differently, front to back, and engineered to perform different tasks. And with routine care, our teeth can last a lifetime. Stress, parafunctional habits and our dietary norms have become powerful mediators that influence how well we hold up over time. As dentists, we are acutely aware and sensitive to signs of premature wear and breakage. Excessive forces applied over time cause damage not only to the tooth structure itself but also to the nerve that sustains the health of the tooth. The supporting bone and soft tissue show related changes.. In advanced cases, signs and symptoms may become apparent in the jaw joint and muscles of the face, a problem commonly referred to as "TMJ".
Maybe you have an awareness of a clenching and/or grinding habit but most people don't. There are many tell tale signs that are key to recognition and hopefully to early treatment. Our IntraOral camera allows us to show you many of these. Please discuss the presence of any of the signs listed below with one of us.
- Noticeable and Premature Wear - Often seen as a flattening of the teeth, especially of the cuspids. When the jaw moves side to side, the teeth fit together like well worn puzzle pieces. The biting surfaces of the back teeth flatten also and may appear to have "divets".
- Chipping and Fracturing - Usually the edges of the upper front teeth become thin from wear. They may appear ragged, uneven and translucent. Back teeth fracture cusps, or the sides of the teeth. There often is a history of missing or broken fillings, loosened crowns and multiple root canals on back teeth.
- Shifting Teeth - Spaces that develop between teeth over time are often a sign of excessive forces and possibly periodontal compromise. Teeth which have become more crowded, also. The direction of the applied force determines how the imbalance is manifested. Either way, there are always other signs that corroborate the discovery.
- Recession and Notches - At the intersection of the tooth and the soft tissue, the gum line, is a characteristic notch called an abfraction. Often associated with a receding gum and possible increased sensitivity, this loss of tooth structure is a result of repetitive tooth flexure under excessive loading.
- Generalized Sensitivity - A common complaint is of all the teeth, especially the back teeth, being uncommonly sensitive, usually to cold. This is a reflection of the constant battering to the nerves of these teeth from excessive and misdirected forces.
- Sleep Apnea - Bruxism is now considered a movement disorder characterized by grinding and clenching associated with excessive sleep arousal.
Treatment recommendations are individualized and geared towards rebalancing the forces that act upon our oral structures. Often, it is a combination approach. The amount of damage and strength of the habit helps to define what is necessary to restore equilibrium and stability. It doesn't make sense to rebuild the teeth without recognition of the underlying causality of the problem that necessitated the rebuilding.
- Awareness - Although the majority of the damage done occurs while we are asleep, it is common enough to see these patterns of excessive wear taking place while we are awake. Most people firmly deny the possibility that they might be clenching or grinding their teeth but once they openly pay attention to the possibility, they discover that they do. A general rule to be aware of is that your teeth should never be touching each other. Acknowledgement is key and allows you to take notice of which of your daily activities and situations precipitate the habit.
- Nightguard - Sometimes referred to as an Occlusal Guard. This is a custom fitted dental appliance that is commonly worn over the teeth at night. It protects the teeth, reducing wear rates and associated fracture and thermal sensitivity. Depending upon the design we choose, we can also reduce excessive muscle contracture, fatigue and soreness. A separate appliance for daytime wear, if indicated, is available.
- Sleep Appliance - When we identify individual risk factors and related changes that suggest screening for an Obstructive Sleep Apnea, a customized oral appliance may be indicated once a diagnosis confirms our assessment.
- Invisalign - Teeth are not always perfectly aligned to begin with and they may not function as well as they should over time. Misaligned teeth can also magnify the effects of minor habits, resulting in major changes such as premature wear and excessive breakage. Orthodontic movement of teeth into positions that can more favorably withstand their environment can be part of the solution.
- Reconstruction - A wide range of restorative options are available. Generally, more severely damaged teeth require a more comprehensive "rebuilding" of the teeth and how they function with one another in order to achieve stability. Early recognition may be addressed with a combination of the three modalities listed above coupled with tooth specific repair; for example, a single crown on a fractured molar.
Our goal is to achieve oral stability and to minimize excessive wear and breakage of the teeth. Call us today for a Consultation. Our knowledgeable doctors can help diagnose occlusal disease, making sense out of a seemingly random series of dental problems.