Robert and Joey were referred to the root canal specialist because of the same issue –
a molar has significant sensitivity to cold. The specialist told Robert that he needed a root canal, but told Joey that he did not, explaining that his sensitivity was the result of his clenching and grinding his teeth.
But Joey was in denial. “Please just fix my tooth – I know I don’t clench or grind my teeth!”
People commonly deny that they grind their teeth despite physical evidence of wear patterns. Many patients find it difficult to believe that the pain they are experiencing, which feels like a root canal, is actually caused by their bite pressure. It is alarming to realize that you can exert 1,000 pounds of pressure with your back molars.
In some cases, patients clench or grind not only while sleeping, but even during the day, without ever realizing it. Many people do not know that the upper and lower teeth should not touch most of the time, and that the teeth and jaws should be in a rest position except when one chews, swallows or talks. By rest position we mean“lips together, teeth apart.”
The bad news for daytime clenchers and nighttime grinders is that even after the problem is treated with root canal, the pain might persist, because continued clenching and grinding is still contributing to tooth pain.
The pressure of your bite can be so damaging that it can cause “cracked tooth syndrome,” so-named because a microscopic crack-line develops deep inside the tooth, resulting in pain that can be quite severe. Ultimately, you can break your tooth or require a root canal due to the microscopic crack. In some cases the crack is so deep even a root canal will not help and the tooth will need
to be removed.
Save yourself some money and a great deal of aggravation. If you are told that you are wearing out your teethwhile you sleep, get properly fitted with a custom bite guard…and wear it! If you clench during the day, then remember, lips together, teeth apart.” This is an easy rule to remember, and to implement, and has proven very successful in helping patients change their daytime clenching habit. So pay attention and check if you clench while driving, while typing, or at any other time, and avoid serious damage and discomfort by following our