Dr. Rodney Shainbom, West Vancouver dentist, hopes to promote restful sleep as an additional gain to healthy teeth. Falling into a deep sleep and waking 6 – 8 hours later to a peaceful dawn has been shown to be crucial to good health. But what if you grind your teeth? Or wake with facial pain or tender jaws? Maybe your teeth or ears ache. Your days begin with dull headaches and it’s a chore to get up and get going. You’re already tired, wondering . . . what happened during the night?
Your friends or family may tell you your problems stem from your job, your relationships, the state of your fitness, or the state of your mind. But, in truth, your uneasy sleep may be due to bruxism. Bruxism is the habit of grinding and/or clenching one’s teeth, and it can cause a host of problems.
Bruxism can loosen normal teeth and damage dental restorations, as well as compromising the temporomandibular joints, which connect both sides of the lower jaw to the skull. The pressure exerted from clenching the teeth can cause tiny cracks in the tooth’s structure, allowing the enamel to become worn. Once the enamel no longer provides its protection, the dentine becomes exposed and sensitivity to hot and cold will appear, followed eventually by decay and the need for restorations. Repairing teeth can range from fillings to crowns, a few to several. All of these can be the result of prolonged, undiagnosed bruxism.
The causes of bruxism aren’t really known with specificity, but it seems the condition can result from several factors, including stress, an abnomal bite, crooked or missing teeth, and having suffered physical trauma.
Can Bruxism be Cured?
There is no cure for bruxism, in the form of a pill or a process that will make it immediately disappear. Usually, bruxism will continue and may worsen unless the patient wears a nightguard. The first step is an indepth clinical examination. Dr. Shainbom will diagnose irregular wear to your teeth, whether your bite is normal or if it has high spots that might cause irritation. He will also evaluate whether your sore jaw or other facial pain is caused by bruxism. Making a custom-fabricated nightguard, which will cover your teeth, fitted exactly to their contours and preventing contact with your opposing teeth while you sleep, could be the next step. A few people may experience a short period of adapting to wearing their nightguard while they sleep, but for most people, the adjustment is quick. Many who have become accustomed to wearing their nightguards nightly find they feel more secure with them than without!
Your nightguards are fashioned from durable acrylic material, and are meant to be resilient for at least two years or more.
Caring for your Nightguard:
• Soften the appliance in hot tap water for one minute before use.
• Keep your appliance in the container provided when not in use.
• Harden with cold water before cleaning. To clean, hold the appliance in the palm of your hand and gently brush the surface.
• Remove your nightguard by using equal pressure on both sides of your jaw.
• Remove mineral deposits by soaking your nightguard in a solution of 1 teaspoon vinegar in half a cup of warm water for 15 minutes, followed by gentle brushing.
• Do not soak in ammoniated cleaners, bleach, alcohol based cleaners or mouthwash.
Your appliance will show signs of wear over time. The extent and rate of wear will depend on the amount of force applied. In normal use, the appearance may vary from clear to mildly opaque. Additionally, other changes in your teeth may require your nightguard to be refabricated. All nightguards have a period of best use. Dr. Shainbom will help you evaluate the state of your nightguard when you bring it in with you at your regular check-ups!