Bruxism is a condition that arises that involves grinding, clenching or gnashing of the teeth. It is a habit that is mostly involuntary and may arise throughout the day during times of stress or caffeine intake or during sleep. In either case, it is important to realize that preventative care is far more valuable to your long term dental health than maintenance through the use of filings and crowns would be. During bruxism, there are several areas of the teeth that will get damaged. The chewing surface of each tooth is obviously the area that gets affected first and the most. The outer layer of the tooth (the enamel) is worn down overtime and either thins out or is removed completely, revealing the secondary layer of the tooth (the dentin). When this happens, one of two solutions must be performed in order to save the tooth depending on the severity of the damage. When some enamel remains, then a tooth colored BPA free custom shade matched resin composite filling can be placed in order to protect the exposed dentin layer. When no enamel remains, than a crown composed of ceramic must be placed in order to protect the entire tooth from receiving any further damage. Another area of the tooth that gets damaged during advanced cases of bruxism appears at the gum line. This area is pressure point and results in a carved out “notch” because of the fracturing off of the enamel. When this happens, there is nothing to support the gums and they begin to recede. There are two options available to help restore the aesthetics in this area of the tooth. A BPA free resin custom shade matched composite can be placed to fill in the notch in order to prevent further damage to the tooth. A second option would be to have a gum graft taken from the roof of your mouth placed in the area of the recession. In most cases, the option that is chosen is the filling because it does not involve surgery, is painless and most of this type of damage occurs on molars, which are not seen when smiling or speaking. When the teeth are restored, it is important to be fitted for a mouth guard which may be worn during sleep or in some cases during the day. There are several different types of bite guards that can be made, each custom tailored for a patient’s needs. No matter what type of guard is chosen, the process for each is simple. Two custom impressions are made and models of your teeth are then sent to a lab. Each guard is then custom made so the fit is 100% accurate. The guards are then given to the patient to ensure proper fit and comfort. Used nightly or in some cases daily, the guard will prevent damage to your teeth from occurring as well as relieve tension in your jaw and neck muscles. Other benefits include less tension headaches, earaches, pressure and tooth sensitivity. For any further questions, please do not hesitate to email or call us at 512-448-9669.