What is Tooth Grinding / Bruxism?
It starts every morning right after waking up and though it ebbs as the day progresses, it comes back in full force on the very next morning – a very strange and unrelenting pain in the jaw, sometimes coinciding with headaches and increased tension in the neck and back muscles. Many people who...
It starts every morning right after waking up and though it ebbs as the day progresses, it comes back in full force on the very next morning – a very strange and unrelenting pain in the jaw, sometimes coinciding with headaches and increased tension in the neck and back muscles. Many people who experience these symptoms most likely decide to ignore them for quite some time until they themselves, or with the help of a dentist, discover the truth: the culprit is none other than compulsive tooth grinding (also called bruxism) at night.
Tooth grinding at night can put excessive pressure of up to 40 kilograms per square centimeter onto a patient’s jaws and thereby lead to very unfavorable consequences, such as:
* Abrasions on tooth surfaces
* Bleeding gums
* Loose teeth
* Fissures and cracks in the dental enamel
* Receding gum lines
* Inflammations of the jaw and facial muscles
* Headaches, neck pain, impaired vision
* Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
* Back pain and prolonged bad posture
To help patients suffering from bruxism with breaking their unhealthy habit, dentists recommend the use of so-called custom-made night guards which are nothing more than splints made out of plastic that are placed on patients’ lower jaws to prevent direct contact between their upper and lower teeth at night. Roughly 2-3 weeks after the first night guard fitting, a patient should come back into the dentist’s office for a check-up just in case the splint needs additional adjustments after the patient’s jaw muscles have loosened up a bit. After their first routine visit, patients may space out their future appointments a bit more and can come back to see their dentists for follow up visits once every 2-3 months.
When do I need a Night Guard / Retainer?
Patients who feel pain in their jaws and teeth every morning after waking up for too many days in a row or who are alerted by their partners that they grind their teeth in their sleep should immediately consult a dentist for a professional diagnosis and manufacture of a custom-fitted night guard. Though the exact causes of compulsive bruxism can vary from patient to patient, they usually fall into one of the following two main categories:
Damaged or Improperly Placed Tooth Replacements
Sometimes dental fillings and other forms of tooth replacements such as inlays or crowns may not fit properly and agitate a patient’s oral cavity, causing him or her to unconsciously attempt to fix the problem via tooth grinding. In such cases, dentists can fairly quickly zero in on the improperly placed or damaged tooth replacements (e.g., dental crowns or bridges) and fix them via targeted follow-up procedures.
Patients who are facing significant stress and mental pressure (caused by either professional or personal factors) often unconsciously channel that tension to their jaw muscles which can result in tooth grinding at night.
How much does a Night Guard / Retainer cost?
In general, governmental health insurers only partially reimburse the costs associated with the diagnosis of bruxism and the manufacture of a professional night guard. Therefore, patients are usually on the hook for paying for their night guards out of their own pockets. The exact costs of such specialized splints vary depending on the material and fitting method used and can range from € 100 up to € 500.
We hope that you found this primer helpful and invite you to take a look at our blog for more interesting and hopefully helpful information.