One of the most common and destructive problems I see all too often is bruxism (grinding your teeth). It has been said that up to 90% of the population clenches or grinds their teeth with some regularity. For many, it occurs during sleep when you have absolutely no control over the damage it is causing.
Some of the more extreme cases become symptomatic and develop jaw problems such as clicking, popping, or pain. Others (the majority of cases I typically see) have no signs they are bruxing other than wear marks on their teeth (AKA wear facets). These worn areas first show up as flat spots at the tops of the canine teeth where they used to be pointy. As the wear continues, it later shows up in the front and back teeth as rough and uneven edges, chips, cracks and eventually fractures.
Not only is bruxism unsightly to a smile, but it is very destructive. Once the enamel is worn away it can never be replaced. At some point the bite changes as well, and trying to rebuild the teeth becomes very difficult (and expensive!). Sometimes, this process even aids in the development of TMD (Temporal Mandibular Disorder) and migraine headaches.
The best prevention of damage and discomfort due to bruxism is a nightguard. The term nightguard is actually a misnomer, as they can be worn anytime. I have found that a nightguard is the most cost-effective way to both protect the teeth and joints, and also reduce the potential for costly dental bills to correct the problem later on.
We are always looking for signs and symptoms due to bruxism in our exams. If, however, you think you may be grinding or clenching your teeth, please contact us so we can take a look. It may save you a lot of trouble and money later on in life.