Although most toothaches occur because of lack of hygiene and a diet high in sugars and acids, there are some instances when a Myrtle Beach dentist encounters a patient who complains of dental pain, diseases, and injuries despite cleaning the teeth properly and eating well. If you experience aching in your jaws, the sides of your neck, your shoulders, or your head, you may be suffering from bruxism. Bruxism is an anxiety disorder sometimes described as a sleeping disorder characterized by the compulsion to clench and grind the teeth.
People with bruxism clench and grind their teeth when they are tense or stressed. This puts pressure on the teeth, the gums and bones that support them, as well as the jaws and muscles that facilitate clenching and grinding movements. The clenching can break down the enamel of the teeth, wearing them down until the teeth are easier to fracture. Worn teeth are also easier for food particles and oral bacteria to penetrate, making them more susceptible to dental caries or tooth decay.
People with bruxism might not realize at first that their actions are harmful. Clenching the jaws is a response to tension—a way to ease anxiety the same way a person might strike something out of anger. Some people also experience this during sleep, making it impossible to detect the problem unless there is somebody else in the room. There are cases of family members complaining that their loved ones clench their teeth throughout the night.
Dentists Myrtle Beach residents visit can refer patients with bruxism to a psychiatrist who can treat the anxiety reactions. For the teeth, the dentist will construct a protective night guard. These are protective plastic molds similar to sports guards that football players use when playing.
Night guards are made of ethylene vinyl acetate, a thermoplastic material that is very tough and resistant to wearing or cracking. It is suitable protection against dental wear and tear. Dentists make custom night guards out of an impression of the patient’s teeth, which ensures a comfortable fit. The patient may feel a little uncomfortable about wearing the mouth guard. However, the patient will get used to it after several days.
The specific shape of the mouth guard also keeps the jaws in their proper place. The upper incisors normally protrude forward, with the upper and lower canines and molars fitting together like pieces of a puzzle. Myrtle Beach dentists like Dr. Kelly and his colleagues at the Carolina Dental Center recommend promptly acting on this problem to prevent jaw and head muscle strain.