Clenching & Grinding
What is it?
- clenching and grinding often occurs while sleeping, but can also occur throughout the day
- patients are not always aware that it is occuring, but is usually evident upon examination by a dentist
- teeth can become severely worn, eventually chipping and fracturing
- the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can be damaged from such habits
- often occurs more frequently during times of high stress
- occurs in both children and adults
How is it treated?
- there are many different philosophies for treating a clenching and grinding habit
- the main concern is to protect the teeth, which is done using a "bite guard" or "bruxism appliance"
- these can be made of various materials from a firm plastic to a pliable resin depending on the case
- guards are generally not recommended for children because the teeth positions are constantly changing and a guard would only fit for a short time
- if grindind at night, be sure to spend 30 minutes before bedtime in a calming activity such as taking a bath or reading a book . . . and not television watching or video games
- if children continue to grind day and/or night, it will commonly subside without incident before permanent teeth are affected . . . exfoliating baby teeth will make the clenching and grinding uncomfortable and thus often dissipates at this point