We see many patients who demonstrate significant wear on the biting (occlusal) surfaces of their teeth. Often, this is caused by bruxism (grinding of teeth during sleep). It is rare for someone to grind their teeth during the day, because it often makes a noise which alerts the tooth grinder to their action, thus causing them to stop. It is common for people to grind their teeth while sleeping, without their knowledge. (Usually their sleeping companion will be able to hear the grinding sounds) Just yesterday one of our patients mentioned her husband tells her it often wakes him. this can be significant wear on sleep and enamel. Over time, this night time grinding can wear away the enamel that coats the teeth, exposing the underlying dentin, which is much softer and sensitive. There are many theories as to the cause of bruxism. About 20% of adults brux. Stress and anxiety are added risk factors for bruxism. In some people, irregularities in the bite, such as premature contacts when closing the teeth together, can be a direct cause of tooth grinding. By eliminating premature contacts through a process call equilibration, the dentist can remove the cause of tooth grinding.
Sleep studies have uncovered rhythmic masticatory muscle activity in many chronic bruxers. These individuals demonstrate micro-arousal of muscles 8-14 times per hour of sleep, during which the person is actively grinding their teeth. To control this, trials have been done with the drug Clonidine, which have shown some promise, but not without side effects, like morning hypotension. There is a better way than medication.
It is important for people who grind their teeth during sleep to protect their tooth structure by wearing a nightguard. Dr. Martin can evaluate your bruxism problem and fabricate a custom nightguard that will fit precisely and comfortably. One of our patients has commented that hers is so comfortable it is like pulling up a warm blanket. They relate it to being without a pillow. Save the grinding for that morning cup of coffee...then we can discuss how to get rid of the stain:)