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Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - Potomac
2010 Opitz Boulevard, # D, Woodbridge, VA 22191

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Are Cracked Teeth on the Rise?

Since the coronavirus pandemic, dentists have noticed an increase in patients coming into their offices complaining of issues such as migraines, jaw pain, tooth sensitivity and tooth fractures. The rapid increase in these issues is directly related to the clenching and grinding of the teeth and jaw, an issue referred to within the dental community as bruxism. This issue is typically caused by stress, anxiety, lack of sleep and poor posture – all things that have become increasingly common as people have been working from home and dealing with the stresses of a global pandemic.

Can You Give Me Information on Bruxism?

Grinding is the action of moving the jaw back and forth, while clenching is the action of biting down excessively for lengthy amounts of time. Both of these are referred to together as bruxism. It’s not an uncommon condition. Many people who have it do it in their sleep or when they are feeling stressed out.

Failing to address this issue can lead to the enamel and structure of the teeth becoming compromised, leading to the development of tooth sensitivity and decay. It also causes sleep disruptions, headaches and pains in the jaw, face and neck.

You may be more likely to develop bruxism if any of the following factors apply to you:

  • Age: Bruxism is incredibly common in children.
    Personality Type: Many people who have more intense or hyperactive personality types tend to experience this issue.
  • Intense Emotions: A lot of people unconsciously grind or clench their teeth when they are feeling stressed, frustrated or angry.
  • Certain Medications and Substances: Using specific types of psychiatric medications, alcohol, caffeine or tobacco can increase the risk of having bruxism.
  • Other Health Conditions: Many people who have epilepsy, sleep apnea, Parkinson’s disease and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder also have bruxism.

Can You Tell Me How I Can Stop Clenching My Teeth Throughout the Day?

Daytime bruxism most often occurs when a person is feeling stress, anger, anxiety, frustration, tension or any other kind of intense emotion. The best course of action is to reduce stress as much as possible. Here are some things that you can do if you have bruxism during the day or night:

  • Avoid smoking, especially before you go to bed.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol and caffeine that you consume.
  • Engage in relaxing activities like taking a hot bath, going for a walk, meditating and listening to calming music.

Can a Dentist Help with My Bruxism?

Our office has lots of experience in dealing with patients with bruxism. If you suffer from this issue, you may be prescribed a custom-fitted night guard to be worn whenever you sleep. To find out if this is the right treatment option for you, schedule a consultation with one of our dental care experts.

Will a Custom Night Guard Help with My Bruxism?

A custom-fitted night guard is placed in your mouth and sits over the teeth. It works by protecting your teeth from becoming worn down due to clenching or grinding. Other names for this appliance include an occlusal guard, occlusal splint or bite splint. While it doesn’t prevent you from engaging grinding or clenching, it protects the teeth while re-establishing the space that naturally exists between your upper and lower teeth.

Why Do Dentists Recommend That Some People Wear Night Guards When Sleeping?

Most dentists recommend that bruxism patients wear a night guard to prevent damage to their teeth, jaw, crowns and other dental restorations. They assist in preventing morning headaches and in relieving jaw pain.

What Are the Symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome?

Temporomandibular joint syndrome is a condition impacting the way that the jaw muscles and joints function. It is most often seen in patients with bruxism or jaw injuries. You may have this condition if:

  • Your bite becomes suddenly uncomfortable.
  • You have swelling on the side of your face.
  • Your jaw seems to become stuck or locked into particular positions.
  • You hear a clicking or popping noise when opening or closing your mouth.
  • Your face, jaw, neck, shoulders or ears feel painful or tender.
  • You have difficulty chewing or opening your mouth wide.

Will a Bruxism Night Guard Help with My Jaw Pain From TMJ?

In addition to helping bruxism patients, night guards also assist in addressing the problems associated with TMJ syndrome. Since a custom-fitted mouth guard fits your mouth so well, it will allow your jaw and teeth to shift into proper alignment, assisting in the reduction of jaw tension, pain, headaches and other TMJ syndrome related symptoms.

Is It Important to Wear a Mouth Guard for Jaw Clenching?

It is imperative that you wear a mouth guard when you have bruxism. This is because grinding and clenching can cause extensive damage to your teeth. This damage can be expensive to treat. It can also be painful.

While you can purchase over-the-counter mouth guards, the dentists at Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - Potomac highly recommend that you receive a mouth guard that has been custom fitted by a dental professional. This is because:

  • A custom-fitted night guard will fit your mouth better, ensuring that it will feel comfortable and that it won’t fall out at night while you’re sleeping.
  • A custom-fitted night guard will keep your jaw properly aligned, alleviating TMJ jaw pain.
  • A custom-fitted night guard will last longer since the materials used in constructing it will be of a higher quality than what you can purchase at the store or online.

What Is the Process for Getting a Custom Night Guard?

Getting a custom night guard is easy. Once your dentist determines that this treatment is right for you, he or she will make a mold of your teeth. This mold will be sent off to a specialized lab where your mouth guard will be constructed using high quality, durable plastic. You will have one final fitting once your dentist receives the night guard from the lab. After that appointment, you will then need to wear your mouth guard whenever you sleep.

How Much Will I Pay for a Bruxism Night Guard?

The price of a bruxism night guard is determined by the materials used and the specifications required for its construction. You will be provided with an estimate from one of our dentists before your night guard is made. Contact your dental insurance provider to see what kind of coverage you are entitled to for night guards.

In order to receive high-quality treatment for your bruxism or TMJ syndrome, contact us today.

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Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - Potomac

2010 Opitz Boulevard, # D, Woodbridge, VA 22191

(703) 595-2887