22. November 2011 09:23
Stressed out? ...the economy? ...kids? ...job? ...mother-in-law? ...school? We are constantly bombarded with things in our lives that cause us stress. Some journals state that stress is the leading cause of disease in the developed world. So what about disease in our mouths?
Increasingly we are seeing more evidence of stress in our patient's mouths. There has been some links between periodontal disease and stress, but today I want to focus on bruxism or grinding your teeth.
For most patients this is a silent destroyer of the hardest substance in the human body: the enamel of the teeth. This protective layer can literally be completely obliterated with extensive bruxism. Most patients have no idea that they are clenching or grinding at night.
Your dentist will be able to pick up on early signs of bruxism such as wear facets on your molar teeth, edge chips in your front teeth, and abfractions seen on the tooth structure near the gum line (these are little notches in the tooth caused by the torque of the tooth under grinding pressure).
So what are the solutions to this problem? There are various ways to combat stress such as physical therapy, counseling, medication and exercise. While some people are willing to go to this extent to deal with the cause of the stress, many do not wish to go that deep for a solution.
The simple answer to the wearing down of the enamel in your mouth is a custom night guard fitted by your dentist. There are various designs, but the simple theory is that with plastic between your teeth, only the plastic will be worn down and not your teeth.
This does not treat the cause of stress, but at least minimizes the destruction cause by bruxism. Remember once that enamel is destroyed it is gone for life! This can lead to sensitive teeth, decay, root canals, and potential complex dental restorative procedures.
So if your dentist discusses tooth wear with you listen carefully.