Grinding teeth describes the habit of clenching and grinding opposing teeth, frequently under stress or during sleep periods. The teeth are usually ground unconsciously during nighttime; therefore the problem often remains unrecognised. The applied forces are high and mainly uncontrolled during clenching. This can cause significant damage to tooth structure and periodontum. Repeated grinding wears down the enamel and makes the teeth susceptible to dental decay and periodontitis. The constant activation of the chewing muscles causes tensions which can exceed to the neck and back muscles. Patients that are exposed to grinding often suffer under fatigue and tiredness in the morning. Also damages to the mandibular joints have been reported. To address the symptoms of dental grinding or clenching, it is the first objective to protect the natural teeth and oral tissue of the patient. Often dental splints, for instance the Michigan splint, help to harmonise the interaction between the upper and lower jaw. In more serious cases it is advised to consult a chiropractor or pain therapist. Of course it is helpful if the main course of stress or discomfort can be eliminated by the patient.
Snoring could be caused for instance by excessive alcohol consumption, overweight or side effects of medication. For most patients snoring can be eliminated without surgical intervention by using an individual splint. It is important to not underestimate snoring as a medical condition, since it could be a sign of an apnoea disease, which causes insufficient oxygen supply. This leads to fatigue and tiredness during the day. In this case a combination of dental therapy and general medicine is indicated.
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