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Teeth Grinding and Nightguards

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Teeth Grinding and Nightguards

Do you ever wake up in the morning with headaches or soreness in your jaw? Have you or your dentist ever noticed chips or small cracks in your teeth? If so, you may be grinding your teeth while you sleep. Don't worry - you're not alone. Its estimated that about 30 million people in the US do the same. 

This condition, known in dental as bruxism, is not life-threatening, but it can definitely cause damage to your teeth. It is probably also disrupting your sleeping habits. In this blog we'll discuss the causes, symptoms and solutions for bruxism and how the latest dental products can help you. 

Diagnosing Bruxism

Bruxism is not typically hard to spot. Most people suspect they grind their teeth. They usually either looked up their symptoms online or have been told by friends or family that they're grinding. 

During a dental exam, we can usually tell a patient has been grinding. We look for chips and damage to the tooth enamel as well as smoothly worn surfaces. We will also ask questions about jaw pain and/or headaches. One of the most significant concerns related to bruxism is that it often is an indicator of a sleep apnea - a very serious condition. 

Identifying Signs of Bruxing and Clentching

Treatment with Nightguards

The most common way to treat bruxism is with a nightguard. In fact, up to 70% of our regular patients use a nightguard. It's one of the easiest methods of prevention! This appliance is worn in the mouth during sleeping hours to prevent grinding. Nightguards are similar to athletic guards, but thicker and more rigid. These custom appliances are made with acrylic using a professional impression, ensuring a perfect fit. 

Another advantage of a custom-made night guard is the material. Acrylic is hard (opposed to store-bought "boil and bite" type of nightguards that are soft) and discourages further biting, clenching and grinding. These are the behaviors we're trying to eliminate! An over-the-counter biteguard isn’t made specifically for you, it’s meant to fit a wide variety of jaw and mouth sizes. Unfortunately, it will never fit perfectly. 

Ask Us About It!

If you suspect that you’re grinding, ask your regular dentist for help. He or she can confirm a diagnosis and work with you to develop a treatment plan. If you're in the Ashland or Rogue Valley area, contact us at Soulsmile. You can call us at 541-482-4995 to schedule an appointment. We'd love to help you sleep better. 

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What the floss?! Soulsmile Weighs in on Recent News

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What the floss?! Soulsmile Weighs in on Recent News

Let's Talk About Flossing

Surely you've seen the headlines - "Flossing is Nonsense and My Laziness is Vindicated" or "Flossing: Government's Latest Piece of Bad Advice". All this press about flossing stems from an article published this month by the Associated Press (Read it here). Their report points out the weak evidentiary basis for floss as a method of reducing plaque and tooth decay. The American Dental Association responded saying: Trust us, flossing helps.  

In reality, the AP article is less about floss and more about evidence-based medicine. They are correct in that the published and proven evidence for the benefits of floss is poor. One reason for this is that floss has been around since the 19th-century! Recommendations for flossing are based on pretty obvious assumptions: it removes plaque from in between teeth and because plaque leads to gum disease and decay, flossing will improve these conditions. But because our medical standards have risen so greatly in the last centuries, assumptions are not enough - and understandably so. 

Anecdotal evidence and long-standing traditions have been replaced with evidence-based medicine. This approach is dependent on well-designed, controlled studies. Thus far, nobody has tackled a flossing study with the academic rigor we now expect. Why? We can only speculate. Studies like this are expensive and there is no fame or monetary reward to be found in proving out flossing. Flossing is cheap, easy to adopt and no-risk. This leaves us with anecdotes and weak evidence. Two of our leading dental associations — the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Periodontology — cited other studies as proof, but most of these studies used outdated methods or had relatively small sample size. 

Despite our agreement regarding poor studies and evidence around flossing, this does NOT mean it has been proven ineffective either. Each of your teeth have six surfaces and brushing can only clean four of them. You simply need a method for cleaning in between your teeth to properly remove all plaque causing substances that are proven to cause decay.  

We always hoped more people would talk about flossing - but not like this! At the very least, we hope this exposure will inspire researchers to conduct better studies and counteract these claims made by the AP. Oh, and by the way - even the author of the article admits he still flosses. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us directly or leave a comment. We'd love to hear from you. 

For Further Reading

This 2006 study titled, “Dental Flossing and Interproximal Caries: a System Review,” recruited 808 children age 4-13 and split them into three test segments: kids who were professionally flossed 5 days/week; kids who were professionally flossed once every 3 months; and kids who reported self-flossing at home. The research lasts 18 months and unsurprisingly, the participants who were professionally flossed 5 days/week saw a 40% decrease in the risk of cavities. 

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