Dental hygiene, such as regular brushing, flossing and cleanings, is imperative to keeping a healthy set of teeth and gums. Without proper dental care cavities can form, eroding teeth and causing not only pain but the potential for teeth to completely rot away and cause infections. Left untreated, cavities can cause severe pain, complete tooth loss, and even infections that may spread to other parts of the body. Gum disease is another risk of avoiding proper dental care. Gum disease is not only painful but has been shown to have links to other diseases, such as a higher risk for heart disease or lower weight babies in pregnant women.
A trip to the family dentist is recommended every 6 months to get regular cleanings and check for cavities, which may then need filled. Between visits brushing, flossing, and mouthwash use are appropriate ways to prevent plaque build-up and cavities. If not caught early cavities may become more severe, eventually leading to more invasive and painful procedures such as root canals.
A common issue that family dentists see is called bruxism, or tooth grinding. Although some people exhibit tooth grinding during high-stress or anger periods, bruxism is more commonly known to happen at night while sleeping. Since grinding happens during sleep it can often be hard to tell, but symptoms such as dull headaches or a sore jaw are common. Grinding may be more common after as stressful day or may have no correlation with stress levels, depending on the patient.
Tooth grinding can be dangerous for multiple reasons. The pressure can cause chipped, cracked, loose, or even completely knock out teeth over time. Grinding may also wear down the sharp surface of teeth, possibly to nubs, which can be painful as well as cause issues with eating and hot or cold sensitivity.
Once a family dentist suspects bruxism they may suggest using a night guard as part of your dental plan. There are over-the counter guards, typically seen used in sporting events, that may be a quicker alternative to the hand-crafted mouth guards from a dentist. Night guards purchased at the store are often a “boil and shape” variety, made from a soft material that will shape around the teeth once heated up. These allow for a custom fit, although not as comfortable or custom as a dentist made guard.
Dentists also make thin and custom fit guards based upon molds of the teeth. These are the best option for night grinders as they offer the most comfort and protection to the teeth. Typically only worn on the top teeth, these guards prevent contact from the surface of the top and bottom teeth to prevent wear from bruxism.
Regular dental care is important to overall health, and many dentists now recommend night guards at the slightest sign of tooth grinding. For more information visit www.yoursmiledentalcare.com