Could you be damaging your teeth and not even know it?

Nicely shaped teethAs your concerned dentist in Federal Way, Dr. Lee strives to give each and every patient the most comprehensive care possible!  Many things in dentistry are very subtle.  There are conditions that can take years to manifest themselves to the point that you, as a patient, are concerned.  Dr. Lee, in providing superb dental care in Federal Way, wants to take a moment to discuss a topic that she is quite passionate about…….Bruxism, or more commonly known as clenching and grinding.

A person’s teeth should naturally be different lengths.  A person’s front teeth should be longer than the two on either side, and a person’s canines(eye teeth) should be longer than the two laterals.  When you begin to see the upper front teeth becoming the same length, this is proof of clenching and grinding!  If you have not been aware or shown symptoms, the shortening of your teeth give it away.  As your family dentist in Federal Way, Dr. Lee wants to protect her patients from ever getting to that point! Flattening of teeth caused by bruxism

Do you ever wake up with a dull headache or a sore jaw?  Do you sometimes find yourself clenching your teeth?  Do you sometimes find it difficult to open wide or have soreness when you try and open?  Do you ever have popping or clicking in your jaw joints?  These are all conclusive signs and symptoms of bruxism.  Unfortunately, many people are unaware that they grind(or brux) their teeth because they do it in their sleep.  Clenching and grinding can be audible, so someone may tell you they hear it.  However, some people make no sounds at all, but are doing considerable damage.

People who clench and grind their teeth may

  • wake with a headache, earache, or toothache
  • facial muscles may be sore and jaw joints may be tender
  • grinding can cause damage to dental restorations
  • grinding may loosen teeth
  • grinding can damage the temporomandibular joints(TMJ)
  • pressure from clenching and grinding can cause cracks or fractures in the teeth
  • tooth enamel can get worn away, causing exposed dentin and sensitivity
Severe BruxismBruxism can start at any age.  Pain or discomfort from colds, ear infections and allergies may cause children to grind their teeth.  Although actual causes of bruxism are not known, several factors may be involved.  Stressful situations, problems in sleeping, abnormal bite, or crooked or missing teeth may contribute.
Regular dental check-ups at your Federal Way dentist are important to detect damage in the early stages.  Dr. Lee can diagnose and treat irregular wear on teeth and determine the source of facial pain that may be the result of bruxism.
Based on Dr. Lee’s diagnosis, one or more treatments may be recommended.  Dr. Lee may recommend a nightguard that is worn while sleeping.  This is a custom appliance made of acrylic that slips over the teeth in one jaw to prevent contact with the opposing teeth.  The nightguard relieves the pressure from clenching and grinding and causes further damage from occurring.
If stress seems to be a major cause of bruxism, a nightguard may still be warranted.  However it may also be helpful to find ways to relax.  Listening to music, meditation, exercise, reading a book…..all these things may help.
If you have questions, please write them down so Dr. Lee, your dentist in Federal Way, can address them at your next appointment and prescribe the best way to protect your pearly whites!

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