According to the Canadian Sleep Society, approximately 8 percent of adults and 13 percent of children in Canada experience teeth grinding or clenching – most often in their sleep.
Teeth grinding or clenching (often called bruxism) can be caused by a number of things:
- Disrupted Sleep;
- Misaligned teeth; and/or
Most people who clench or grind their teeth typically do not realize they are doing so.
Some signs of bruxism may include:
- Tooth Sensitivity;
- Tooth or Jaw Pain;
- A third party hearing the noise of grinding (especially at night).
When you clench or grind your teeth, a huge amount of pressure is exerted on your teeth and jaw. Continual clenching or grinding can lead to cracked, chipped, broken, or loose teeth and potential for damage to the Temporomandibular joint.
Diagnosing Clenching or Grinding
If you see a dentist regularly, they will monitor your mouth for signs of irregular wear and tear on the surfaces of the teeth. It is important to always let your dentist know if you are experiencing any unusual pain or sensitivity in your teeth, head, or neck area – this can help to diagnose bruxism early and limit damage.
If you become aware of clenching your teeth, try to make an effort to relax the jaw and stop the clenching. Stress reducing activities such as exercise may be beneficial if the bruxism is being caused by external stress. Depending on the reason for your clenching and grinding, your dentist may recommend corrective treatments for your mouth, or may want you to wear a custom fit mouth guard at night to reduce the pressure on your teeth.
While with previous generations, dental braces were a source of embarrassment for year after year of school children and teens alike, modern-day fashion has embraced and accepted them. Instead of the suppressed smiles of the past, kids with mouths full of brightly coloured metal and elastic are now becoming the envy of their peers.
A number of celebrities openly parading their own dental braces has certainly helped the look to become accepted, especially with celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Whoopi Goldberg, and Cher. In the opinions of many young teenagers, getting braces has become almost a rite of passage into the teenage years.
Additionally, braces can be fun. With so many colour options, possibilities are endless. Braces wearers can get their smile done up in their home team’s colours, or to match a special outfit.
Many dentists are noticing that the trend as of late is that teens who are told they may not need braces after all tend to end up disappointed. Of course there needs to be a clinical indication towards requiring braces for dentist to suggest them for someone. As well, people are seeing the results of wearing braces and realizing that a beautiful, functional, straight smile is easily attainable with just a short while of potential discomfort.
For those who don’t want to adorn their teeth with their favourite colours, there are options for braces that are considered nearly invisible. Anyone with a clinical need can benefit from braces, and there does not need to be any drawback due to the way they look.
Having your teeth shift out of alignment can occur for a number of reasons. A simple reason may be that you sleep consistently on one side – or perhaps your grind your teeth at night while you are asleep. It’s also possible that bad dental habits can cause teeth to fall out of alignment. No matter what the cause of the shifting is, misaligned teeth can bring on more dental problems if left untreated since teeth that have shifted can be difficult to properly clean.
In order to find the right treatment for your shifting teeth, you first need to determine the cause of the shifting. You dentist can guide you through this. In order for you to get an idea while you wait to see your dental provider, here are some of the common reasons of teeth shifting.
Jaw Clenching and Teeth Grinding. These are very bad habits for your teeth, as they can force either your top or bottom teeth to misalign from added pressure. Some people do this in their sleep and may have no idea they are doing it.
Tooth Loss. If you lose a tooth, you should have the spot filled. Otherwise, the additional space in your mouth leaves room for the surrounding teeth to shift toward that spot to fill the gap.
Tooth Decay or Cavities. Not treating a cavity can cause the teeth to shift as the decay spreads. Also, the composite that is used to fill cavities may cause shifting – it is best to avoid cavities at all if possible.
Genetics and Age. Even if you are born with perfectly straight teeth, you may have genes that dictate the shifting of your teeth at a later age in life. Additionally, when a person grows older the natural wearing away of the areas between each tooth can cause shifting.
No matter what the cause is of the shifting of your teeth, contact your dental team for an assessment to get it taken care of. There are many solutions to shifting, and the answer for your mouth will depend on what is causing the shifting.
When finally comes the day that your braces are set to come off, you may be excited to be freed of bands and brackets – and to be able to run your tongue over your teeth and feel a smooth surface. But, don’t forget that you are not completely done with orthodontics. Most braces-wearers will require a dental retainer for use after their braces are removed. Some of those who have never had braces may also require a retainer at some point, to help keep things straight or fix minor issues.
Retention is a critical follow-through stage of orthodontics that typically involves wearing a retainer. Several different kinds of retainers exist, all of which are custom made for your mouth. Your orthodontist will recommend which type of retainer will work best for your mouth and for how long you will need to wear the retainer.
Types of Retainers
Three types of retainers are commonly prescribed for orthodontic patients:
• Hawley Retainer – a thin, tongue shapes piece of acrylic moulded to fit your mouth, with a wire that holds the teeth into position. This retainer is simple, durable, and easily removed. It is possible to personalize these retainers with different colours and designs for the plastic arch – it can also be adjusted to correct minor tooth movements as they happen.
• Clear Plastic Retainer – the clear aligner type of retainer looks very similar to an Invisalign tray. These retainers are custom made of thin, transparent plastic which is designed to sit perfectly over the teeth. The main advantage to this retainer type is that it is virtually invisible, with no wire to show. These retainers are also easy to remove, but are less durable than a Hawleys retainer.
• Fixed Bonded Retainer – a fixed retainer ma be an option for some mouths, especially on the lower front teeth. These retainers are not removable by the wearer, and they are not completely invisible. The system uses a wire which is bonded to the inside of the teeth. This retainer may remain in place for months or even years.
When your braces come off, your teeth will require some sort of further orthodontic treatment through a retainer to avoid the teeth moving. Unfortunately, if nothing is used after braces the teeth will very likely start moving back into their original position prior to orthodontic care.
For the majority of people wondering if Invisalign can help with their orthodontic problems, the answer is almost always yes! Invisalign treatment is clinically proven to be effective for a broad range of teeth straightening cases, from mild to complex – and the treatment is continuously innovating to expand that range, and get better results.
Some common concerns that can be treated with Invisalign include:
Gaps between the teeth can occur with abnormal growth of the jawbone – or by missing teeth causing surrounding teeth to shift due to extra space. Spacing issues and gaps between teeth can lead to gum problems due to lack of protection of the teeth, periodontal pockets, and increased risk of periodontal disease.
Overbite is when the upper teeth bite over top of the lower teeth – typically caused by genertics, bad oral habits, or overdevelopment of the bone that supports the teeth. Overbites can lead to issues in the gums, irritation, wear on the lower teeth, and can cause problems in the jaw.
Underbite occurs when the lower teeth protrude out past the front upper teeth. This is usually caused by lack of growth in the upper jack and/or overgrowth of the lower jaw. Underbite can also be caused by missing upper teeth, and can prevent normal function of front teeth or molars which can lead to uneven wear. Underbite can also lead to problems in the jaw.
This occurs when some teeth are unable to make contact with the opposing teeth for a proper bite. Usually cause by genetic abnormal jaw structure or excessive thumb-sucking.
This occurs when there is not enough room in the jaw for the teeth. Crowding can result in severely crooked teeth, leading to tooth decay and gum disease.
This happens when the top and bottom jaws are misaligned, and causes one or more of the upper teeth to bite on the inside of the lower teeth. This can cause wear of the teeth, gum disease, and bone loss.
If you are affected by any of these conditions, you are likely a great candidate for Invisalign treatment. Call your dentist today to discuss treatment options.
When deciding when to see an orthodontist, the answer is generally that it is best to see one as soon as is possible. Earlier treatments generally mean that a patient will have easier treatments, and less likely need for a surgery or more serious corrections later in life.
For children, it is recommended that they see an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7. Most orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected early rather than waiting until the jaw growth has slowed. For children under 7, there is a wide disparity of tooth development – it takes an expert to tell if a child may actually have an orthodontic problem or simply normal developmental variation. An early exam is also a good idea because most conditions are far easier to treat when caught at an earlier stage, when the child’s natural growth processes are in progress – an orthodontist can make good use of what the body is already doing to treat potential issues.
When should adults be seen by an orthodontist? Again, the best answer is usually as soon as possible! If you tend to be embarrassed by your smile, or cover your mouth when you laugh – perhaps you have started to think about getting braces to straighten your smile? The good news is that teeth can be straightened at any age. In current surveys, 1 in 5 orthodontic patients is an adult.
Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age, and compliance is usually less of an issue with adult patients versus children. Don’t forget that orthodontics isn’t only about looks – straight teeth are easier to clean and maintain, and are less subject to abnormal wear and tear. A better bite can lead to better health – so the best answer of when to get orthodontic treatment may just be – “right away!”