Posted November 18, 2010
Are you a tooth grinder? You may not even realize you’re doing it but you are probably aware of the effects, like headaches and sensitive teeth. A mouth guard, such as an occlusal guard, can help preserve teeth.
Occlusal guard coverage can be added to most dental plans. This low-cost addition helps promote preventive care and wellness by encouraging members to seek treatment when they first notice the symptoms. Occlusal guard coverage also reduces high-dollar claims that may not be covered by addressing the situation before extensive damage to the teeth has been done.
Tooth clenching or grinding, called bruxism, is more common for those with higher stress levels, or a competitive or hyperactive personality. Smoking and drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages can increase the risk for bruxism. Those with a family history of bruxism are more likely to develop the habit.
Symptoms and Signs of Bruxism
Due to lack of awareness, often a family member, partner, or friend will notice bruxism before the person with the habit is aware of it, especially if it occurs at night while sleeping. Signs may include:
- Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to wake a sleeping partner
- A popping or clicking of the back jaw bones, called the temporomandibular joint
- Jaw pain
- Dislocation of the jaw
- Earache caused by severe jaw muscle contractions
- Enlarged jaw muscles
- Worn, flattened, fractured or chipped teeth
- Indentations on the tongue
- Damaged or chewed tissue on the inside of the cheek
- Oversensitive teeth
- Facial pain
Since the symptoms of bruxism may resemble symptoms of other conditions or medical problems, individuals should consult a dentist or physician for a complete diagnosis. It also helps to address the root cause of the grinding in addition to treating the symptoms.
Employers may choose to offer occlusal guard coverage to help reduce future expensive claims and prevent further tooth damage. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to affect long term health and well-being for employees and their families.
To learn more about bruxism, visit the American Dental Association’s website.