One of the most common things I see in patients in my practice is the presence of clenching. Clenching is a subconscious habit that has a direct correlation to stress. The constant action of pressing the upper and lower teeth together produces consequences.
Initially, one or several teeth will become sensitive to cold and sometimes hot to items (foods, liquids). The affected areas will move and sometimes even disappear. Prolonged clenching can cause micro fractures on teeth which can lead to parts of teeth breaking to involving the nerve requiring root canals, and worst case, the tooth splits requiring an extraction. I personally have experienced all of these things.
How do I stop clenching? It’s actually impossible to stop but the next best thing is to have an occlusal guard made that fits over either top or bottom teeth that protects the teeth from the extreme forces they are exposed to.
My spin on stress is that it’s not the life or death type but the stress every day responsible people are under. Responsible individuals live on a schedule with deadlines and things to do and places to be. The most common times we clench are when our conscious minds are occupied, i.e., driving, watching television, sleeping, working on computer. These are the times our teeth are most vulnerable and when we should wear our protective occlusal guard.
If you think you might be clenching, please give us a call to be evaluated.