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Dr. Michael W. Stuart

Dr. Craig E. Stannebein

2700 Grand Avenue, Suite D. Billings, MT 59102

Monday - Thursday 8am-5pm
Friday by Appointment Only

(406) 794-3114

Treating Your Troublesome Teeth Grinding

  • March 17, 2016
TMJ Treatment 2 | Legacy Smiles - Billings, MT

You wake up again with pain in your jaw.

Your face is sore. Your jaw hurts. Even your teeth feel funny.

At work, you learn that one of your co-workers has completely dropped the ball and forgotten about the presentation you were supposed to present together this afternoon. Shortly after getting this news, you notice your jaw pain is back.

At home, your spouse is going over the checkbook and seems upset by one of your recent purchases. Again, the pain comes back.

You could be one of the millions of Americans who suffer from teeth clenching or grinding. At Legacy Smiles, we know this can lead to other problems if left untreated. We can help. All you have to do is stop by our dentist office in Billings, MT, to get started.

The Trouble With Teeth Grinding

We’ve all heard someone say he or she was biting his or her tongue as a figure of speech. It means the person wasn’t saying someone he or she wanted to say.

If we wanted a more literal saying, we might say that we were clenching our teeth. Often when we are put in an emotional situation — due to stress, anxiety, or anger — we may realize that we shouldn’t say what we are thinking.

To keep from doing that and to cope with the emotions we’re feeling, we may bite down hard instead.

This may keep you from getting fired or from making an argument with your spouse worse than necessary, but it’s not so good for your oral health.

To make matters worse, many people grind their teeth in their sleep. You can’t control this, since you are unconscious, but the effects are just as real.

Now matter why you grind your teeth together, you are damaging your teeth. By grinding, you are wearing down the protective enamel on your teeth.

When you have tooth decay, it’s often because the bacteria that form plaque and tartar have eaten through the enamel. If you wear a hole in your enamel, then you’ve just make the bacteria’s job a lot easier.

Teeth Grinding And Your Jaw

We’ve hinted at some of the symptoms of teeth grinding already. Unfortunately, your teeth grinding can also be the cause of a bigger issue — a TMJ disorder.

A TMJ disorder is a problem with your temporomandibular joint, which connects your jaw to your head. This is a ball-and-socket joint, and it makes it possible for you to open and close your mouth and to move your jaw from side-to-side.

If you have a TMJ disorder, or TMD, then you may experience symptoms such as:

  • Jaw pain
  • Facial pain
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Headaches
  • Earaches

In other words, you may feel a lot of pain.

Because stress is one of the most common triggers for teeth grinding, learning how to manage stress is one of the first recommendations for treating this problem. Relaxation techniques and exercise may help.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research also recommends eating softer foods (since chewing can also trigger TMJ symptoms) and applying heat to ease the pain.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work. This is when Legacy Smiles can help.

Defend Your Teeth

We don’t want you or any of our patients to grind their teeth. We’ve noted that this wears down your enamel, and it can cause you all kinds of pain. Dentists don’t like it when their patients are having either of these problems.

Thankfully, we can help by making an occlusal splint for you. This is a special mouthguard that you can wear to prevent your top and bottom teeth from touching one another.

If they can’t touch, you can’t clench or grind them together. This helps preserve your teeth and their enamel.

With time, your mouth and jaw will adjust to this new resting position. This will alleviate the tension that occurs when you clench or grind. That also relieves the pressure on your jaw, which can correct the TMJ problems you have been experiencing.

End Your Pains

Imagine waking up without a headache. Imagine eating … without jaw pain afterwards. Imagine the soreness in your neck and shoulders going away.

If you want to turn this dream into a reality, you can start by scheduling a visit to the Legacy Smiles dentist office in Billings, MT.

By calling (406) 794-3114 or filling out our online appointment form, you are taking to first step toward ending your pain.

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