The Daily Grind

Why you might be grinding your teeth, and why you might want to get help.

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Grinding of teeth, also known as bruxism, is quite common, and almost everyone has done it at some point in their lives. While it is most common to grind your teeth at night in your sleep, there are some who even do it during their waking hours.

Why do we grind?

Bruxism has a number of potential causes, and not everyone grinds their teeth for the same reasons, but there are a couple of causes that might lead to bruxism.

Stress and anxiety
An abnormal bite and/or crooked/missing teeth
Side effects: medication and alcohol and tobacco use can sometimes cause grinding
Age: young children tend to grind their teeth but this usually goes away with age
Caffeine: consuming caffeinated beverages in the evening has been linked to some cases

Should you seek help?

Again, almost everyone will grind their teeth at some point in their lives, however persistent and severe bruxation often requires intervention. If you grind your teeth frequently, you may experience temporomandibular joint disorders, damage to your teeth and pain in your face, teeth and jaw.

 

Elastics in Orthodontic Treatment

Elastics: Why you need them

So, you are at your orthodontist for an exam or for your regular appointment, and the doctor tells you that you will need to wear elastics during your time in braces. This may leave you wondering what elastics are and why you need to wear them in the first place? Read on to get the full scoop on the what and why of elastics in orthodontic treatment.

What Are Elastics, Anyways?

Almost everyone who has braces will at some point be told they need to wear elastics. The elastics resemble tiny rubber bands, but they are composed of latex, though non-latex elastics are available to those who are allergic or sensitive to latex. They come in a variety of sizes, which, in our office, are given animal names to help you remember which elastics you are wearing. The elastics are worn by attaching them to hooks that are placed strategically on your brackets.

Usually, you can place the elastics with your fingers. It takes a little practice, but given time, you will be able to put them in and take them out without even looking. You may have a few appointments before you have to wear elastics, and when its time to start wearing them, your orthodontist will instruct you on how they want you to wear them.

Why Are Elastics So Important?

Your orthodontist and the orthodontic assistant at your appointment will probably stress your cooperation with elastic wear when it is time to start wearing them. Something so small might seem like its of minor importance, but elastics are incredibly important to orthodontic treatment.

Your elastics are designed to retrain your jaw, and wearing them as recommended by your orthodontist will help correct your bite in ways that the wire and brackets alone cannot. Make sure to pay attention to the instructions as there are a number of ways the elastics can be worn, and you want to make sure you are wearing them correctly.  You can even request a diagram from your orthodontist that you can reference after your appointment to ensure you are wearing your elastics correctly long after you leave their office.

If you do not wear your elastics as often as you are told, or if you wear them improperly, your treatment can go on longer than originally estimated. Your orthodontist can always tell if you have worn your elastics properly, so make sure to be diligent and consistent in their wear, and be honest with your orthodontist if you could have done better with wearing them since your last appointment.

For additional questions on why elastics are important, or if you have questions on how you should be wearing them, do not hesitate to call your orthodontists’ office. If you are a patient of Walker Dixon Orthodontics with questions on elastics wear, or if you are interested in pursuing treatment with us, call our Fishers office at 317-570-0011, or our Indianapolis location at 317-849-0110.

TMJ and TMD

What is TMJ and TMD? Your questions answered.

What is TMJ/TMD?

TMJ is a commonly used abbreviation for the temporomandibular joint, also known as the jaw joint. These joints connect the mandible to the skull and allow for the range of jaw motion through the muscles in the area. When the joints do not work together with the muscles, that is when TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder, occurs. TMD symptoms can include jaw pain and limitations in jaw movement such as locking or limited ability to open or close the jaw.

How do you treat TMD?

The correct course of treatment for TMD varies from case to case, and depends largely on the type and severity of symptoms. Self-treatment is always recommended first and includes the use of cold and warm moist compresses, over-the-counter pain reliever and a soft diet until symptoms subside. It is also recommended to avoid activities that put additional strain on the jaw muscles which includes yawning widely, chewing gum and eating hard or chewy foods. If symptoms persist, or are greater in severity, it is a good idea to consult with your dentist or your local orthodontic specialist who might recommend a splint or orthodontic treatment to correct a bite discrepancy that might be causing TMD. Surgery for TMD is usually only recommended as a last resort to treat TMD after all other methods of treatment have been exhausted, and extreme caution is advised for those seeking surgical treatment for TMD.

If you are experiencing TMD symptoms, and would like additional information on how bite correction can help provide you with relief, contact your local orthodontic specialists at Walker Dixon Orthodontics to schedule an exam. For the Fishers location, call 317-570-0011, or for the Indianapolis location, call 317-849-0110.