Grinding Appliances

Many people who have grinding habits can’t feel that they clench or grind their teeth. Muscle soreness can be an indication, and wear patterns may appear as flat spots on the edges of your front and/or back teeth. In extreme cases, teeth may begin to chip, crack or break.

You may notice pain while chewing or temperature sensitivity as wear progresses. If these symptoms are present, you have a clenching or grinding habit. This often happens over night, but not necessarily every night. It is however, happening enough to cause changes to your teeth and bite.

Treatment

Dr. Forman has extensive training through continuing education in the use and design of grinding appliances. These appliances are very technical and precise in nature, and not merely something to cover the teeth, but to restore and perfect your bite while it’s worn.

The appliance needs to fit perfectly without rocking and can only be adjusted properly using the patient’s own teeth as a guide. Dr. Forman does not use some of the softer and easier to fit appliances as they do not allow the patient’s bite to be refined properly and they can promote chewing and muscle hyperactivity which is the opposite of what is desired.

Procedure

First, we’ll take molds of your teeth and register your bite using a piece of wax. The molds are sent to our lab and the appliance is made. At your insertion appointment the appliance will be tested and adjusted to the correct tightness and fit.

The bite will be checked and perfected by adjusting the appliance so that your jaw can slide freely and your bite is even all around your mouth. After about a week you will return for a bite assessment. As your muscles relax, the force distribution can change and the appliance may need refining. From there, we will check the appliance once a year at your hygiene maintenance appointment. The plastic will wear as you use it and may need adjustment.

What Could Happen If I Don’t Take Action?

Teeth are made of crystals just like a crystal glass. Muscle strength varies but the jaw muscles are the strongest in the body and they can break your teeth. When this occurs the teeth can be beyond repair and have to be extracted. When the missing tooth is replaced, it is subjected to the same pressure that caused the original tooth to fail and cycle can repeat.

If the teeth don’t break, but do crack, it can become painful to chew and a root canal may be required. The treatment, which may involve crowns are, again subject to the same pressure which caused the original tooth to fail.

If the teeth do not break or crack, they can show extreme wear, which can cause pain while chewing or temperature sensitivity as well as aesthetic issues. The only way to treat this is extensive reconstructive dentistry; potentially with root canals, posts, crowns, implants, etc. which are extremely time intensive and expensive. Again all of this work is then subjected to the same pressure that caused the problem in the first place.

In short, as intrusive as the appliance may seem, it is the best alternative. Wear the appliance as much as possible to avoid the more severe consequences discussed above.