Teeth clenching and teeth grinding are both very common habits. They are both typically subconscious, meaning involuntary, and usually occur at night during sleep. Although common, both can have a damaging effect on the teeth, gums, bone support and jaw.
Clenching occurs when the upper and lower jaws firmly bite together, causing pressure between the teeth and jaws. Clenching appears as indentations on the biting surfaces of molars from the opposing molars. Clenching occurs mostly in adults.
Grinding occurs when the upper and lower jaws firmly bite together and grind back and forth. Grinding appears as flattened biting surfaces of both the front and back teeth, accompanied by an eerie grinding sound that family members sometimes hear. Grinding occurs mostly in children, and the habit is usually grown out of.
As stated above, clenching appears as indentations on the biting surfaces of molars, and grinding appears as flattened biting surfaces. In both clenching and grinding, tooth sensitivity, headaches, jaw aches, and jaw joint tightness can occur. In clenching, gum recession and tooth notching and bone loss can also occur.
In the case of teeth grinding, it usually occurs in children, and the habit generally goes away on its own. There is typically no treatment other than to monitor and assess the teeth at check-up appointments. When it comes to teeth clenching, the solution is usually a nightguard, which helps prevent tooth-on-tooth wear and acts as a cushion between jaws.
A night guard is a tray that is fabricated precisely for your teeth and mouth, made out of sturdy plastic. The night guard protects your teeth and jaw from the force of clenching and prevents wear, chipping and fractures from occurring. Nightguards can be fabricated for either the top or bottom teeth, depending on preference. Impressions will be taken of your teeth and sent out to a lab to have the tray made. The process will take a week or less, and the tray will be tried in and adjusted if necessary with your dentist. It is essential to wear the night guard every night to offer the best protection for your teeth and jaw.
If you believe you may be clenching or grinding your teeth or are interested in discussing a nightguard, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.