Bruxism is the medical term for the clenching, grinding, and bracing of the teeth. The estimates of people who suffer from Bruxism range from 20%-40% of the population. Whatever the exact percent is, it’s a very large portion of the population. The main reasons why an exact percentage is difficult to ascertain are 1) many people who clench or grind their teeth are unaware that they clench or grind 2) many people are in denial and refuse to acknowledge that they clench or grind and their Dentist has failed to diagnose and educate them. Truth of the matter is that virtually all of us clench or grind from time to time.
Normal canine or “Eye Teeth” have a pointed shape. In the early stages of bruxism, your eye teeth may begin to show signs of wear and begin to lose their pointed shape. Other teeth will begin to show wear and begin to flatten. As bruxism progresses, your teeth may begin to develop tiny cracks, and may even begin to chip. The next step may be larger cracks, and eventually your teeth may become loose from the abuse of bruxism and be required to be capped or replaced.
There are 2 primary ways to determine if you clench or grind your teeth. The first preferred method is to be examined by your dentist. During a dental exam, your dentist can see the telltale signs of bruxing. The second method is for you to check your teeth using the method that we call the “picture puzzle”. The picture puzzle is very simple. Close your teeth so that the top canine tip touches the opposing lower canine tip. In front of a mirror, using your hand, (be sure to wash your hand first) separate your lips on one side so that you can see your eye teeth. If your eye teeth are not pointed in shape, you are clenching or grinding.
Usually Bruxism and clenching are the main causes of "teeth flattening". Eating chips and other hard snacks do not cause your teeth to flatten, crack or chip. Clenching and grinding are the reason teeth flatten, chip or crack.
In most cases, the only way to prevent damage to teeth, caused by bruxism, is wearing a brux guard, also know as a clench guard. Prior to the invention of the Mini Comfort, clench guards were hard, bulky and uncomfortable, so much so that some dentists would not prescribe a clench guard for their patients. The reason for many dentists not prescribing a hard guard for their patients was because the patients would not wear the guard because it was uncomfortable, bulky and in some instances encouraged the bruxism habit in patients.
Over the next days, weeks and months, we will discuss bruxism as well as comparing the effectiveness of the Mini Comfort to other guards including mail order “do it yourself” and “over the counter” guards and the damage that they may cause.