There are three main causes that lead to tooth loss & or the need for people to need extensive dental treatment- clenching or grinding, particularly at night, is one. A single night of nighttime clenching or grinding while you sleep can simulate 100 days of normal use.
People are often unaware that they clench or grind at night. You may be grinding or clenching your teeth if:
– your teeth are slowly disappearing “getting shorter”
– the muscles in your shoulders or neck or face are tight upon awakening or get that way in the afternoon
– your teeth are worn
– all your upper front teeth are the same length
– you get frequent headaches
– your back teeth have notches/grooves in the side at the gumline (often felt with your fingernail)
– all or almost all of your teeth hurt or are sensitive
– your jaw joints /TMJ or the nearby areas are tender or sore
– your teeth, fillings, or crowns are chipping, breaking, or cracking.
Treatment for clenching or grinding usually consists of a night guard. If caught at any time in the process, the damage can almost always be completely stopped (or so reduced that corrective treatment is dramatically minimized); if caught early, damage and corrective treatment can be prevented. Night guards are one of the least invasive and most comfortable procedures done in dentistry because it almost never involves working/grinding on teeth.
Other benefits of a night guard can be reduced frequency or even prevention of headaches. Many migraines may be caused by or complicated by clenching at night. Some patients have significant reduction of migraine headaches while others achieve headache prevention with a night guard called the “NTI.” Severe or frequent headache sufferers finding relief have called it a “miraculous” treatment.