Grinding and clenching of teeth is called ”bruxism”. This type of condition is referred to as a nonfunctional habit of the jaws. Grinding of teeth can occur while awake or asleep. Grinding your teeth while asleep is often a bit of a problem. First of all, you can’t control nighttime grinding. Bruxism while asleep is a very common sleep behavior that a many people will experience at some time in their lives, especially during the times of stress.
It is ironic too that recent evidence indicates that use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – that can be prescribed to a person during the state of stress -- can significantly increase teeth grinding.
Some of the night guard devices, or the new FDA approved NTI Device, are the best treatments for teeth grinding. A night guard is a thin piece of hard plastic made from impressions of your teeth that is placed on the upper teeth. The night guard is hard enough to be durable but it is softer than teeth and protects them from wear. When the night guard is first tried in, it is adjusted to fit your bite perfectly. This type of appointment may take a while, but it is very important that the fit of the night guard fit perfectly.
The NTI Device is much easier to wear and can be fitted to your teeth in one appoitment. It gets fitted in to attach to your front two teeth only ; it does not allow the posterior teeth to touch. This type of device can reduce jaw clenching and teeth grinding up to ninety percent and it also protects teeth from wear.
Bruxism is a problem – it can cause severe jaw pain as well as enamel wear. A person can actually grind their teeth so hard while asleep, that sometimes significant amounts of tooth structure can be lost over time. This can cause more loss of tooth structure than even severe tooth decay. Typically the patient has no idea he or she is doing this since there is no pain or visible cavities in the teeth. Sometimes nighttime grinding can contribute to cracking and fracturing of back teeth as well. One major goal of a night guard or NTI is to stop this destruction of tooth structure right away. The NTI night guard stops the wear of the teeth in it’s tracks.
A night guard is one of the most important steps in relieving a jaw pain problem as well. Even if no pain is present at the moment, wearing a night guard prevents development of this painful problem. It also protect the jaw joints from excessive pressure that may lead to damage in them.
Normally you need to wear the night guard each night for it to work properly. It takes a few nights to get adjusted to, but it is usually comfortable to wear and you get used to it easily.
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