As I get ready to start my day, I was looking at my schedule, and was struck by something…our Public Enemy Number One in dentistry is not what most folks think it is, it is bruxism.

As defined by Wikipedia, bruxism is characterized by the grinding of the teeth and is typically accompanied by the clenching of the jaw.

As defined by, well….me, bruxism is the number one reason why patients seek dental care.

As I look through my schedule, I realize that almost every patient I treat is in my chair because of problems related to tooth grinding and clenching.

But here’s the problem….most of it occurs while we sleep, and because of that simple fact, most of us are utterly unaware of its significance.

Broken teeth, shattered crowns, sore and painful jaw joints and a whole host of problems are either directly or indirectly related to bruxism….and those are just problems that we treat as dentists.

The list of medical conditions that are affected by bruxism is huge, and it grows a little bit every year as we gain understanding of the interconnectedness of different bodily systems.

If you are one of the many may patients who “follow the rules”–you brush, you floss, you eat a good diet, and see the dentist regularly—but still are constantly plagued by dental problems, odds are pretty good that you are a grinder.

Slowly but surely, we in the dental community are awakening to this very real problem, and are educating our patients more and more on how to prevent it. It is my fervent hope that the medical community as well begins to understand its significance, and makes the appropriate referrals to a dental office when their patients need it–which is a lot more often than most realize.

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