How to Stop Clenching to Prevent Gum Recession

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Hi, I’m Dr. B, practicing functional dentist for 35 years. I graduated from the Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, CA in 1987 and am a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), Academy of General Dentistry (Chicago, IL), American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH), and Dental Board of California. I'm on a mission to empower people everywhere with the same evidence-based, easy-to-understand dental health advice that my patients get. Learn more about Dr. B

For today’s episode, we are focusing on clenching, looking at some of the root causes, risk factors, and links to gum recession. This is an important and complex topic that comes up a lot in dental work, with some notable progress being made in understanding it in recent decades. It is also a great proxy through which we can see the differences between a strictly academic approach to dentistry and a more functional and experienced approach. Although there are differences between clenching and grinding, they both fall under the condition called bruxism and shall be grouped together for the purposes of this discussion. As with most issues, understanding the root causes is the most important step, and this can help us begin to unpack treatment and get a handle on the other conditions that may be connected. The first thing to note is the two different classes of bruxism, with the condition being divided into the grinding that occurs during sleep and that which happens during periods of being awake. When it comes to bruxism, there are simple steps such as the use of sleep guards, which can be helpful but are merely a band-aid to the problem. We look at some of the circumstances that can give rise to bruxism, including stress and anxiety, aggressive dental treatments, sleep apnea and more. If we can narrow down the potential causes and patterns, we are then more able to find an effective treatment plan, so for all this and more on how to start unpacking this tricky issue, listen today! 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The small differences between clenching and grinding
  • The root causes for bruxism, the umbrella technical term for clenching and grinding 
  • Two types of bruxism; during sleep and wakefulness 
  • Primary causes for grinding: stress, anxiety, anger, tension, misalignment, trauma, and facial development
  • The contrasting reasons for sleep bruxism; narrowed airways and sleep apnea for example  
  • Risk factors associated with grinding and the dangers of denial
  • The symptoms we should be looking out for: disrupted sleep, aches, tooth sensitivity, and more
  • Some functional dental approaches to dealing with bruxism worth considering 
  • The process of narrowing down the risk factors and causes in order to find the right treatment
  • Dangers and continued issues with receding gums; connecting this to grinding
  • Addressing issues with grinding in young children early on 
  • How a good relationship with your dentist can simplify complex issues such as these 

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