What You Need to Know About Bruxism

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If you are one of those folks who regularly grind your teeth, then your condition is called bruxism. It can lead to damage to your teeth and other oral health issues.

So why do people grind their teeth? Generally, teeth grinding or clenching is from stress or anxiety and it usually occurs at night when you’re sleeping. You’re more apt to suffer from bruxism if you have an abnormal bite or if you are missing teeth or have crooked teeth.

You probably suffer from bruxism if you have a constant, dull headache or your jaw is regularly sore. Also, your loved one may hear you at night when you are sleeping and grinding your teeth. If you do think that you may have bruxism, consult with your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs. He will examine your jaw and mouth for signs of grinding and look for abnormalities and/or tenderness in your jaw and teeth.

We see some patients at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs who come in with teeth that have been fractured, loosened or are even missing because of a long-term history of grinding their teeth. Sometimes their teeth have been ground down to mere stumps. The solution? Crowns, bridges, implants, root canals, and partial or full dentures.

Additionally, health issues stemming from bruxism’s impact on your jaw can include hearing loss, worsening of TMD and TMJ, and changes in your face’s appearance.

So what can you do to stop grinding your teeth or reduce its impact?

Have your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs fit you with a night mouth guard to protect your teeth while you sleep.

Find ways to reduce your stress if that is a contributing factor to your bruxism. Depending on your personal situation, counseling for stress, regular exercise, physical therapy, and prescription muscle relaxants are some of the options you may consider.

Cut back from your diet– or cut out – foods and drinks that have caffeine. These include colas, coffee and coffee.

Skip the alcohol because you grind your teeth more intensely after consuming alcohol.

Avoid chewing anything that isn’t food – thinks like pencils or pen caps. Chewing gum can also be a problem since it makes your jaw muscles more used to clenching and increases the likelihood that you will grind your teeth.

Teach yourself not to grind or clench your teeth. If you position the tip of your tongue between your teeth while you’re awake, you’ll train your jaw muscles to relax. At night, hold a warm washcloth against your check in front of your earlobe to relax your jaw muscles.

SOURCE: WebMD

Is Bruxism Impacting Your Oral Health?

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Unless you work in the dental profession, the odds are good that you don’t know what bruxism means. But if you suffer from the problem, you definitely know you have it and probably wish you could find effective treatment.

So what is bruxism? Simply put, it is teeth grinding. A little of it won’t hurt your oral health and is fairly common. But if you are someone who constantly grinds their teeth (primarily at night when you are asleep), you can wear your health down in multiple ways. Because most people grind when they are not awake, it generally isn’t obvious what dental issue is being created by their problem.

But once you get some insight into what causes bruxism and how to prevent it, you can begin to work with your dentist to address the issue and improve your oral health (and overall health).

So What Exactly is Bruxism?

In short, bruxism is a condition characterized by the clenching or grinding of teeth. When it affects you at night, it is called sleep bruxism. However, you may also suffer from this condition during the day when you are wide awake. Symptoms may include:

  • Teeth grinding or clenching (often loud enough to wake others)
  • Teeth that are chipped, fractured, flattened or loose
  • Sensitivity of the teeth
  • Tightness or soreness in the jaw or face
  • A dull earache or headache
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)

What Causes Bruxism?

Medical science hasn’t quite figured out the exact cause of bruxism. Often health professionals find it extremely difficult to pinpoint a specific reason for bruxism.

However, a number of physical and psychological causes have been strongly linked to bruxism:

  • Emotions – Anxiety, anger, stress or frustration are all triggers of bruxism.
  • Concentrating on a Task – Some people grind or clench their teeth to reduce pressure or help them concentrate. Often the person is unaware they are doing this.
  • Malocclusion – Poor teeth alignment (malocclusion) may develop bruxism.
  • Sleep Apnea – This condition can exacerbate bruxism.
  • Additional Complications – Specific psychiatric medications, complications from other medical disorders, and even acid reflux can exacerbate teeth grinding.

What Treatment Options Are Available?

Don’t panic if you suffer from bruxism. Often people grow out of the disorder, while others suffer a minimal form of the condition and don’t need treatment. But if you do need treatment, there are a range of options to choose from:

  • Dental Approaches – A visit to your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs can give you access to splints and mouth guards to prevent damage to your teeth. Of course, you can also consult your dentist to determine if misalignment is causing your problems and, if it is, you can determine an appropriate treatment solution.
  • Therapies – For bruxism due to psychological factors, stress management, behavior therapy, and/or biofeedback may help address the underlying cause and eliminate teeth grinding in the process.
  • Medications – Medications aren't a common treatment for bruxism but in some extreme cases, doctors will prescribe muscle relaxants or Botox injections to relax the muscles and prevent grinding.

By better understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatments of bruxism, you can ensure that you find the relief you need, protect your smile from damage, and rest easy knowing that grinding isn't wearing down your health.

Sources: MayoClinic.org, WebMD.com

11 Tips to Help Protect Your Tooth Enamel

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Tooth Enamel Erosion: Causes and How to Prevent It

Tooth enamel is a semi-clear, hard, outer layer that protects your teeth from daily wear and tear. It also keeps you from feeling temperature extremes from the hot and cold things you eat and drink. Acids and chemicals that can damage your teeth are also fended off by it.

Every time you eat or drink anything acidic, the enamel on your teeth becomes softer for a short while, and loses some of its mineral content. Your saliva will slowly cancel out this acidity in your mouth and get it back to its natural balance. However, if this acid attack happens too often, your mouth does not have a chance to repair itself and tiny bits of enamel can be brushed away. Over time, you start to lose the surface of your teeth.

When this shell erodes, your teeth are more likely to get cavities and decay. You may notice you react more to hot or cold foods, drinks, and sweets, since they can get through holes in your enamel to the nerves inside.

A few easy habits can help you protect your pearly whites. But first you need to know what to watch out for.

 

What Causes Enamel Erosion?

Damage to your teeth’s outer layer can come from:

·        Too many sweets. Bacteria in your mouth thrive on sugar, and they make acids that can eat away at enamel. It gets worse if you don’t clean your teeth regularly.

·        Sour foods or candies. They have a lot of acid.

·        Dry mouth. Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by washing away bacteria acids and leftover food in your mouth. It also brings acids to an acceptable level.

·        Acid reflux disease, GERD, or heartburn. These bring stomach acids up to the mouth, where they can damage enamel.

·        Bulimia, alcoholism, or binge drinking. People with these conditions vomit often, which is hard on teeth.

·        Drugs or supplements that have a lot of acid. Think aspirin or vitamin C.

·        Brushing too hard. A soft brush and a gentle touch are best.

·        Grinding your teeth. Your dentist may call this bruxism. Too much of it can do damage.

 

What Are the Symptoms?

Erosion usually shows up as hollows in the teeth and a general wearing away of the tooth surface and biting edges. This can expose the dentine underneath, which is a darker, yellower color than the enamel. If your teeth start losing their outer shell, you might notice:

·        Pain when eating hot, cold, or sweet foods or drinks

·        Rough or uneven edges on the teeth, which can crack or chip when they lose their enamel

·        Smooth, shiny surfaces on the teeth, a sign of mineral loss

·        Yellow teeth

·        Cupping, or dents, that show up where you bite and chew

 

How Can I Protect My Enamel?

Because it can't be replaced, your best option is to do what you can to prevent tooth enamel loss.

·        Good dental care is the best way to keep your mouth healthy.

·        Cut down on acidic drinks and foods, like sodas, citrus fruits, and juices. When you do have something with acid, have it at meal times to make it easier on your enamel. You can also switch to things like low-acid orange juice.

·        Rinse your mouth with water right after you eat or drink something acidic.

·        Use a straw for sodas and fruit juices so they bypass the teeth. Don’t swish them around in your mouth.

·        Finish a meal with a glass of milk or a piece of cheese. This will cancel out acids.

·        Chew sugar-free gum. This lowers the amount of acid in your mouth. Gum also helps you make more saliva, which strengthens your teeth with key minerals.

·        Drink more water during the day if you have dry mouth.

·        Use a soft toothbrush. And try not to brush too hard.

·        Wait at least an hour to brush after you've had acidic foods or drinks. They soften the enamel and make it more prone to damage from your toothbrush.

·        Use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash. Your dentist can tell you which products can protect your teeth and make them less sensitive.

·        Get treatment for conditions like bulimia, alcoholism, or GERD.

 

Work with Your Dentist

Ultimately, one of the best ways to protect your teeth's enamel is to work with your dentist. He or she can detect any erosion and offer tips on ways to reduce it. As well as using a fluoride toothpaste, your dental team may suggest you use a fluoride-containing mouthwash and have a fluoride varnish applied at least every six months. They may also prescribe a toothpaste with more fluoride in it.

If a tooth does need treatment, it is important to protect the enamel and the dentine underneath to prevent sensitivity. Usually, simply bonding a filling onto the tooth will be enough to repair it. However, in more severe cases the dentist may need to fit a veneer. If it's been a while since you've been in a dentist's chair, book an appointment today.

Sources: WebMD, DentalHealth.org

 

 

 

Dentists are Disease Detectives

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Your Oral Health Speaks Volumes about Your Body

Your mouth performs a range of important daily activities including eating, drinking, talking and smiling. But did you know that your mouth can also provide clues to other diseases? Dentists can act as disease detectives by simply examining your mouth, head, and neck for signs and symptoms that may point to more serious health issues. Dentists are at the forefront of saving lives, as more than 90 percent of common diseases have oral symptoms and can be detected in the dental chair.

The Presence of Disease

Many connections between your mouth and larger health issues have to do with bacteria. Studies have shown that heart disease and endocarditis (an inflammation of the lining of your heart), in particular, are linked to gum disease – a bacterial infection of the mouth. Inflamed gums can also signal a vulnerable immune system, which can be due to diabetes or disorders such as Sjogren's syndrome.

In addition to gum problems, other oral matters are also telling. Tooth loss, for instance, has commonly been linked with both osteoporosis and Alzheimer's. And lesions of the throat occur often in individuals suffering from HIV or AIDS. Last but not least, a dental exam can detect both oral and throat cancer, which typically present themselves via sores or patches that don't go away. Suffice it to say, dental checkups can prove themselves invaluable when it comes to early detection of life-threatening health conditions.

What Conditions May Be Linked to Oral Health?

Your oral health might affect, be affected by, or contribute to various diseases and conditions, including:

Endocarditis. Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart (endocardium). Endocarditis typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.
Cardiovascular disease. Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
Pregnancy and birth. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
Diabetes. Diabetes reduces the body's resistance to infection — putting the gums at risk. Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes.
HIV/AIDS. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.
Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis — which causes bones to become weak and brittle — might be linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.
Alzheimer's disease. Tooth loss before age 35 might be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.
Stress. Your teeth may be worn down or chipped if you've been unconsciously grinding or clenching them. This grinding - also known as bruxism - can eventually cause bone loss that your dentist may detect on your X-rays. Bruxism is usually caused by stress but can also occur because the top and bottom teeth aren't aligned properly. You may or may not be aware that you've been grinding your teeth, but your dentist can spot the signs.
Other conditions. Other conditions that might be linked to oral health include Sjogren's syndrome — an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth — and eating disorders.

Harmful Habits That Impact Your Oral Health and Overall Health

It may not necessarily mean life or death, but some habits can cause a world of trouble – and costly mouth problems are proof of that. 

Tobacco Use. Smoking, chewing and other forms of tobacco use pose serious threats, not just to your lungs, but also to the look and health of your teeth and gums. Red flags that alert your dentist that smoking is starting to do dental damage (and possibly much worse) are the telltale yellowing of teeth, white patches along the inside lining of the mouth, persistent bad breath, and lumps that can signal oral cancer.

Dietary Health. Finally, your mouth can offer clues about the safety and healthfulness of your diet. Severe tooth erosion and swelling of the throat and salivary glands are typical problems seen in patients with eating disorders, due to constant vomiting. Tooth decay and sensitivity can also come with excessive acid in your diet, and many times, signs and symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease ("GERD" or simply, "acid reflux") become apparent to your dentist even before your doctor. Even your breath can be telling of certain food choices, such as garlic or onions, which have long been known to cause halitosis.

 Get Peace of Mind

Given everything a brief dental exam can uncover, there's no denying the benefits of a routine checkup. More often than not, tooth, gum and other oral problems may simply be due to poor hygiene, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Remain diligent about seeing your dentist regularly, and don't hesitate to schedule a checkup in between your typical visits if you notice anything amiss.

 Sources: WebMD, Mayo Clinic

 

Is Bruxism Damaging Your Health?

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Grinding Your Teeth – Bruxism – Can Lead to a Host of Oral Health Issues

Most people probably grind and clench their teeth from time to time. Occasional teeth grinding, medically called bruxism, does not usually cause harm, but when teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis the teeth can be damaged and other oral health complications can arise.

Why Do People Grind Their Teeth?

Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it often occurs during sleep and is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth.

How Do I Find Out if I Grind My Teeth?

Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. However, a dull, constant headache or sore jaw is a telltale symptom of bruxism. Many times people learn that they grind their teeth by their loved one who hears the grinding at night.

If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, talk to your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs. He can examine your mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism, such as jaw tenderness and abnormalities in your teeth.

Why Is Teeth Grinding Harmful?

In some cases, chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. The chronic grinding may wear their teeth down to stumps. When these events happen, bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures, and even complete dentures may be needed.

Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your jaws, result in hearing loss, cause or worsen TMD/TMJ, and even change the appearance of your face.

What Can I Do to Stop Grinding My Teeth?

Your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding during sleep.

If stress is causing you to grind your teeth, ask your doctor or dentist about options to reduce your stress. Attending stress counseling, starting an exercise program, seeing a physical therapist, or obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants are among some of the options that may be offered.

Other tips to help you stop teeth grinding include:

  • Avoid or cut back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as colas, chocolate, and coffee.
  • Avoid alcohol. Grinding tends to intensify after alcohol consumption.
  • Do not chew on pencils or pens or anything that is not food. Avoid excessive chewing of gum as it allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you more likely to grind your teeth.
  • Train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth. If you notice that you clench or grind during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax.
  • Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.

 

 

 

 

SOURCE: WebMD