The grinding and clenching of teeth together is known as bruxism in the dental community and it’s on the rise. Many dentists now recognize it to be at epidemic levels. As a practicing dentist for over 40 years, I have seen the problem in the past but nothing on the levels we are seeing today. Stress seems to be the principal causative factor.
Stress Is a Major Factor
People with TMJ disease (TMD) have a higher incidence. However, with enough stress, people with a totally normal joint can suffer from bruxism – that is, clenching or grinding. While the problem has been evident for a long time, today the problem is more prevalent than ever. Perhaps we are more aware, but I think it is actually happening more than ever before.
My own theory is that today’s pace of life is faster than ever before. Information cannot be escaped – internet, social media, television 24/7. I call it, “too much information” stress. Technology is forcing us to change at breakneck speed and problems, while they always existed, were not in your face all the time, even when they’re on the other side of the planet.
What Can We Do About It?
Regardless of how or why this malady is occurring it is undeniable that it is. The question is what do you do about it? Some people go as far as getting Botox injections into the jaw muscles to help lessen the problem. Most people who actually want to do something about it, use a night guard or mouth guard to help prevent the teeth from coming together onto themselves.
You Have Some Options
The two major categories of these appliances are professionally provided or over the counter (OTC) devices. It is generally acknowledged that professional devices are the best option. However, they are also expensive, costing hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars.
The main device provided by dentists is a horseshoe-shaped appliance covering the upper or lower teeth of the entire mouth. This is the usual device provided by about 90% of dentists making these appliances.
Two other professional options are a device with posterior pads that cover just the back teeth, or a small anterior device called the NTI. The NTI is the only device that has been shown to reduce muscle activity by 60% or more – muscle activity when excessive is the cause of the problem.
The other devices are plastic between the teeth that do nothing to stop or reduce muscle activity. In fact, studies show that some of these devices might increase muscle activity causing more head and neck pain.
Because of the increased prevalence of bruxism, OTC devices have multiplied to a large variety of at least 30 and increasing. Of course, these are less expensive devices, typically don’t fit as well, don’t last as long, and don’t work very well.
A Great Solution
One exception is GrindReliefN, the best mouth guard for clenching and grinding your teeth. It has a three-year wear guarantee and is cleared by the FDA. It is an anterior device using the same mechanism of action as the NTI. However, it doubles the action of the NTI by putting pressure on the upper and lower midline at the same time.
The GrindReliefN can be worn on the upper or lower anterior teeth and there is no limit to reforming it. This device can be made by the dentist and this is typically best, however it is also available online at a lower cost. More information is available at GrindReliefn.com.