Many people clench or grind their teeth, usually at night while sleeping. However, some people also do this while awake during extreme periods of stress or boredom. This is called Bruxism. Bruxism can be very damaging, resulting in worn teeth, mobile teeth, sore muscles, and stiff and painful jaw joints (TMJs). If left untreated, over time, teeth can become more sensitive and destroyed to the point of needing extraction. The chronic grinding creates muscle tension in the face, neck, head and shoulders ending in frequent headaches or pain in facial tissues. Stress placed on the TMJ causes inflammation or derangements of the joint disc and ligaments referred to as Temperomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD).
Correcting problems with damaged or lost teeth and TMD can require extensive dental work such as crowns, bridges, dentures, or dental implants. In some extreme cases total reconstruction, including surgery is needed to correct TMD issues.
A custom fitted, hard, transparent device that covers all of the teeth in one arch (usually the upper arch), can help protect you from the damage of Bruxism. It should be worn at night or any time you find yourself bruxing.