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Are You Secretly Grinding?

By Dr. Peter Gambertoglio

woman touching cheek in painYour jaw joint is incredibly strong, capable of exerting hundreds of pounds of pressure. Though powerful, over time, the jaw is subject to wear and tear just like any other joint in the body. As it wears out, it changes position. The ligaments strengthen, causing your chewing muscles to have to stay constantly contracted to keep your jaw in the correct position.

As your jaw shifts, it results in teeth grinding. Though you may not feel the pain yet, the discomfort will set in—and meanwhile, you’re causing untold damage to your smile.

The Downside of Delaying Treatment

Your dentist can see the effects of the increased muscle activity by looking at the wear on your teeth, able to recognize even the start of the process. As it advances, you may have chipping, flattening, temperature sensitivity or an abfraction lesion, which is a groove you can see at the gum line.

If you follow recommendations and wear the appropriate device, the process can slow down to where you won’t have to feel the pain. If you wait to start to feel uncomfortable, however, you’ll likely require more expensive and extensive treatment in the future.

The most effective way to address teeth grinding is with a Flat Plane Splint. It repositions the jaw, turning off the muscles to halt the destruction to your teeth and jaw joint.

Sending the Right Signals

A Flat Plane Splint allows only the back upper and lower teeth to just barely touch, which deactivates the grinding muscles. Though a mouth guard was the most common treatment in the past, it sends a signal to your brain that you can continue grinding since the teeth seem to be protected and are in no danger of breaking against the plastic of the mouth guard. It tells your body that it’s okay to continue your muscular contraction habit, resulting in more pain and headaches for you.

With the Flat Plane Splint, your back teeth touch at the tips only. Your contracting muscles will then turn off, as the body knows it doesn’t want to exert pressure on such a miniscule area that would result in broken teeth.

If you’d like to find out more about protecting your teeth from wear and tear, contact us today!

Dr. Peter Gambertoglio has been a practicing dentist for over three decades. He enjoys staying up to date with the latest technological advancements and trends in dentistry in order to provide his patients with the best care possible. In addition to general dentistry, he has advanced training in implants, orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry.

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