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Unwind, Don’t Grind (Your Teeth)

Emergency Dental Care Sunrise Dental Chapel Hill, NC | Sunrise Dental Raleigh, NC | Sunrise Dental Durham, NC | Sunrise Dental Cary, NC
The pain in your jaw is absolutely unbearable. You can’t speak, you can’t eat, you can’t yawn without feeling the pain pulsing through your jaw into your face and neck. You can barely work, and when you are home, the pain interferes with the time that you want to spend with your family. You want to figure out what is causing your pain, and more importantly, you want it to stop.  Sunrise Dental may be able to help, particularly if you have been grinding your teeth. Our dentists help patients throughout North Carolina at our offices in Raleigh, Cary, Chapel Hill, and Durham. The Nightly Grind If you habitually clench or grind your teeth together, this is called bruxism. It’s quite common for this to occur when people are sleeping, and it may be the source of the pains that you have been feeling when you are awake. Teeth grinding is sometimes a response to stress. We all have stress at times. If you are more prone to feel stressed or your stress has increased due to issues with family or at work, then grinding your teeth could be one way your body is trying to deal with the situations. As dental professionals, we don’t think this is good for you in the long-term. If you sleep eight hours a night and spend any significant portion of that time grinding your teeth into one another, then you will understand the symptoms of the problem. These include headaches, earaches, jaw and facial pain, and neck and shoulder pains. Your teeth grinding also may affect the mobility of your jaw. You may not be able to open or close your jaw completely at times. We will try to explain why. An average human bite can generate 200 to 250 pounds of force. That’s more than enough to eat the foods that we eat on a regular basis. People who grind their teeth have been measured producing 500 pounds of pressure and more. That’s pressure that is being absorbed one way or another by temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the surrounding muscle tissue that controls the movement of your jaw. Over the long-term, teeth grinding can lead to other problems, like:
  • Wearing down the protective enamel on the outside of your teeth.
  • Cause teeth, dental crowns, and bridges to crack or chip.
  • Increased facial sensitivity.
  • Teeth that feel loose or painful.
Treating The Symptoms One way to cope with TMJ problems is to deal with the symptoms. This may mean taking pain relievers when the pain is particularly bad. You may try applying heat to increase jaw movement and reduce pain. You also may try ice packs to numb the pain and reduce swelling around the TMJ. Eating softer foods for a few days may alleviate the pain as well. If your symptoms don’t return, great. If your symptoms recur, however, it may be time to seek our assistance. Treating The Cause Everyone at Sunrise Dental — doctors, dental hygienists, and other staff — take our patients’ pain very seriously. We want you to be comfortable whether you are in one of our chairs or sitting at home with your family. This is why we offer treatment for teeth grinding and TMJ disorders at each of our four locations. If you come to our office complaining of the symptoms of bruxism or TMJ problems, we will examine your mouth for signs of teeth grinding. This is about protecting your teeth and about alleviating your pain. If we determine that you are grinding your teeth, we can design a special mouthguard for you to wear at night. The first step in making this mouthguard is to take impressions of your teeth. This allows the lab to create a custom-fitted mouthpiece that will provide the most benefit for you. The mouthpiece works by changing the resting position of your jaw. Part of the purpose is to train your jaw to relax in this new position, which will reduce the pressure on the TMJ and surrounding muscles. The other benefit of the mouthpiece may be more obvious. With the mouthpiece in place, your top and bottom teeth can’t touch. That’s means you can grind them into one another either. Don’t Grind When You Unwind Sleep should be the time when your body is relaxed and recovering from the previous day’s activities. Grinding your teeth may be affecting how well your sleep. To find out more about how we can help call any of offices or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation with one of our dentists.