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November 17, 2018 3 min read

- Dr. Ellis here for Oral Care Club. Today, we're discussing something called bruxism. It's something that you hear a lot of buzz about on the Internet or maybe at your dentist's office or talking to people I have bruxism. Sounds really bad. Not that that. Bruxism simply is clenching or grinding your teeth. Clenching your teeth means just put the teeth together and just hold them or putting the teeth together and then grinding them.

The same word can mean both things. So what's the big deal with that? Well, any time you grind two things together, things will wear down. Grind two rocks together, grind, you know, two of everything, anything, you can grind them together, and they will wear down. You're naturally gonna grind your teeth down over time as you chew on food, but there's no need to speed up the process, as in grinding your teeth together. You grind your teeth together, and the teeth are gonna wear down faster, and one of the bigger problems is that you intercuspate, meaning putting the cusps into the grooves of the opposing teeth, and then you push. When the teeth are engaged, you might be actually fracturing some of your teeth, breaking the cusps off.

So how can you stop bruxism? How can you stop grinding? Well, two times that this happens. One is when you're awake. One is when you're asleep. That pretty much covers every time. When you're awake, it's a little easier to stop grinding your teeth. What we do is we do some kind of mental retraining. We have people set an alarm watch or a watch on the phone or whatever for about every 10 minutes. Every 10 minutes every day, we do this for about a week. Every time that alarm goes off, you stop your clenching.

A lot of people sit at their desks or if they drive or whatever they do for a living, they're clenching their teeth, and every 10 minutes, if you relax that jaw, kind of massage it, unclench, every 10 minutes, you're unclenching and unbruxing, not really a word, but you get what I'm saying. Then, that helps retrain them over time to stop doing it. What you find is you start doing the grinding and the clenching in really tense situations if you are really tense in your job or just a really stressed kind of person at whatever job you do, you tend to clench. So we can do that kind of retraining and re-patterning if you are awake. The bigger problem is if you're asleep what do you do? How can you stop something that you really don't know you're doing, and you don't want to wake up every 10 minutes obviously, so how do you retrain that?

The problem is you really can't do that because it's something you're doing subconsciously. What we do for bruxism for people when they're asleep is we simply have a mouth guard, and what that does is it just puts something in between the two teeth, and so you're still grinding, but you're grinding on the night guard, and typically, we make the night guards flat so you can't get that traction. You're just slipping on the night guard, and so you're still grinding, but your grinding the night guard. You're wearing down of the night guard instead of wearing down your teeth. Night guards are much easier to replace than your natural teeth, much cheaper, much less pain and trauma, you know, than putting on new crowns and all that other stuff. So during the day, bruxism, you want to retrain yourself, find out when you're doing it and stop doing it. At night, really all you can do is get a night guard, and the night guards don't have to be expensive. They can be-- There's some things that you really ought to do with a night guard, so you ought to at least take the night guard that you by your dentist and see if he can adjust it for you. Dentist-made night guards are better, higher quality night guards. The night guards you by at the store, they can work. There are some things you want to ask your dentist about, but they can work, too. So bruxism is clenching and grinding. Both are bad. Both will cause damage over time, but there are certain things you can do to stop both of them. So Dr. Ellis for Oral Care Club. Have a good one.