What Is Bruxism, Anyway?

Bruxism is a condition characterized by dental grinding and clenching. Bruxism affects your teeth, your temporomandibular joints, and even the muscles in your face and neck. If you find that you are regularly holding tension in your jaw joints, or that you are grinding your teeth back and forth, this may be due to bruxism.

How Would I Know If I Have Bruxism?

Some patients are able to notice that they are clenching or grinding their teeth during the day. This is a very clear sign that you should schedule a consultation with your dental team.

However, bruxism can also manifest at night, when the patient is asleep. In this case, it is impossible to be aware of dental grinding as it is happening, so you need to look out for symptoms that commonly arise as a result of nighttime grinding.

You may find that you are regularly waking up with a headache or neck ache. Your temporomandibular joints may feel sore, stiff, or out of alignment. Bruxism can also lead to tooth pain, due to the pressure put on your teeth when you clench your jaw.

How Can I Protect My Smile?

The most important thing that you can do is to stay alert for signs of bruxism during the day and at night. With bruxism, prompt identification and treatment can make all the difference in our long-term dental prognosis.

When you are building a treatment plan with your dental team, your dentist will recommend bruxism solutions based on your particular situation. With that in mind, bruxism can be addressed by:

  • Reducing stress
  • Stretching tense or stiff jaw joints
  • Improving bite alignment through orthodontic treatment, dental bonding, or custom restorations
  • Wearing a nighttime oral appliance that guides your lower jaw into a healthier position
  • Wearing a nighttime oral appliance that protects your enamel from tooth-on-tooth contact

If you are worried that you are dealing with bruxism, our Lincoln Park dentists can help you with a personal assessment and treatment recommendations. Give our office a call to speak to a member of our team! 

Caring for your smile, and making healthy dietary decisions, can seem especially difficult as we enter the holiday season. The truth is that this time of year we are often flooded with cookies, candies, and sugary drinks. That is why our Lincoln Park dentists are here to share some tips on how you can prioritize your oral health during the holidays. Let’s get started!

Be Aware Of Risky Ingredients

For many of us the holiday season is filled with sugary treats like cookies, candies, and festive beverages. All of these goodies help to make the holidays special! But did you know that they also make it easier for oral bacteria to infect your teeth and oral tissues?

As you enjoy holiday goodies this year, remember that increased consumption of sugar, especially in sticky formulations (think caramel and candy canes) can also increase your risk of developing cavities and gum disease.

Rinse Your Smile Regularly

One of the best things that you can do to refresh your smile throughout the day is to rinse your mouth with water. Not only does rinsing dislodge dental debris and food particles, it also helps your body produce enough saliva. Saliva is crucial for neutralizing bacteria, freshening breath, and re-mineralizing dental enamel.

Indulge Strategically

When making a plan for enjoying holiday treats, our dental team has two goals:

  • Limit the amount of time that oral bacteria are active in your mouth
  • Protect your enamel for inadvertent damage

It is, for example, better for your oral health if you indulge in something sweet during a specific, time-limited sitting, rather than spacing it out throughout the day. And, when you are going to consume something acidic, you want to do so well before it is time to brush your teeth, as your enamel will remain temporarily softened for 20 to 30 minutes after acid exposure.

If you have additional questions about maintaining a healthy smile, our Lincoln Park dentists are here to help. Give our office a call to speak to a member of our team!


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