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Archive for February, 2015

Are you a Bruxer?

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Are you a Bruxer

I see bruxers every single day in my practice. Bruxers are people who habitually clench/grind their teeth. Quite often people are bruxers without even realizing it because most people grind their teeth in their sleep. So how do you know if you’re a bruxer?

POP QUIZ

a) Do you ever wake up with a clenched jaw?
b) Do the muscles around your jaw ever feel sore or tight?
c) Do you have a lot of worn/flat edges on your teeth?
d) Are any of your teeth chipped? Have you ever chipped or broken a tooth?
e) Do you get frequent headaches originating from the temple region?
f) Do you have sensitive teeth?
g) Has anybody every told you they could hear you grinding your teeth in the middle of the night?
h) Do you suffer from a lot of stress?

If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, there is a very good chance that you are a bruxer.

Now, you may be wondering why stress was a question. Stress is a major contributor to how much people grind their teeth. Think about when people are stressed; they carry a lot of tension in their shoulders and neck. That tension can carry all the way up into the jaw area. When patients come to our office, we will ask them these types of questions and examine the condition of their teeth, and from that we can normally determine if they do clench or grind. Bruxing can lead to all kinds of problems:

  • Teeth that are chipped, broken, worn, flattened, and uneven. I have even seen teeth split in half from heavy-duty grinding. In other severe cases, people can wear off all the enamel on the edges of their teeth, exposing the dentin underneath.
  • Sensitivity. Sometimes people think they have a cavity or even an abscess from the level of discomfort they‘re experiencing, but sometimes it’s simply due to the heavy load and stresses they’re placing on their teeth as they grind.
  • Aesthetic issues. Teeth can become shortened over time from continual grinding, or have a chipped/jagged appearance, both of which can affect a person’s self-image and confidence about their smile.
  • TMJ issues. Bruxing places a lot of pressure on your jaw joints, and over time people can develop conditions related to their TMJs, such as clicking or lockjaw.
  • Muscle tension or soreness. These muscles are highly active during clenching/grinding, which can lead to soreness and fatigue.

What can you do about it? We often prescribe night guards (aka splints) for patients to wear at nighttime. This prevents further wear and tear to the teeth and can also help relieve stress on the muscles and TMJ. Some people are day-bruxers, and for those people I mostly just tell them they have to make a conscious effort to avoid doing it. Massage, chiropractic, and physiotherapy are all useful modalities to help relieve stress in the muscles as well. Bottom line, if you think you might be a bruxer, talk to your dentist to do something about it.

Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky

What’s the Deal with Oil Pulling?

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What's the deal with Oil Pulling? Has everyone heard of this? Oil pulling is an Indian therapy that is used by its practitioners to improve oral and systemic health. While it may be new to most of us, it’s actually ancient, dating back to over 3000 years ago. Basically, you use an oil, such as sesame, coconut, or sunflower, and swish it around in your mouth for 15 – 20 minutes and then spit it out, like a mouthwash. By moving the oil between your teeth, it’s supposed to “pull” the bacteria into the oil, reducing the harmful bacteria in your mouth that lead to cavities, plaque, gingivitis, and bad breath. There are also many other claims that have been made as to how oil pulling can benefit your health, including helping with problems such as migraines, asthma, and even diabetes. While those claims might seem far-fetched, there are proven relationships that link oral health and systemic diseases, so if oil pulling improves oral health, who knows… it might help those conditions as well. The fact is, we don’t know. Like most pseudo-scientific home remedies, there is little research to back any of these claims. However, some recent pilot studies have shown that oil pulling can reduce the amount of harmful bacteria in the mouth responsible for tooth decay, gingivitis, and bad breath, which is a start. Some patients have asked me if they should do it, and I have no problem with it. So far in my research, I haven’t found any indication that oil pulling could negatively impact your health. It is not a substitute, however, for brushing and flossing. Sorry ☺ But, if you use it as an adjunct to your normal daily hygiene routine, it sounds like it does make a difference. As more and more people look for natural ways to treat different health problems, oil pulling seems like the new trend in dental care. To be honest, I LOVE a good natural home remedy (I might even give this one a try). Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky