Often times I get patients in the practice that come with the common complaint of tiredness in their face muscles or headaches, more predominant at early morning times. Also, it is common to find patients that despite their meticulous dental care and awareness keep on having teeth fractures or “chips”. These are common signs of grinding or clenching.
The difference between both terms is the way the forces of clenching or grinding occur and impact your dentition. When grinding your teeth you can find the typical “screeching” sound and creating wear patterns in your teeth that not only affects your tooth structure (fractures, chips, sensitivity, etc) but also your muscles and joint (TMJ). When clenching our opposing teeth do not move. Hence, the wear patterns do not happened but the enamel gets really stressed causing line fractures and affecting the teeth structure in the same way as when grinding occurs.
For either parafunctional habits the initial treatment is the same: an occlusal guard also know as bite splint. It is recommended the ones delivered by the dentist versus the “over the counter” ones since these devices need to be hard in order to absorb the forces and it needs to be equilibrated by the dentist.
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