Tooth grinding, or bruxism, is an unconscious habit that affects millions of people each year. Most people who grind their teeth do so while they're sleeping and in reaction to rising stress levels. Since long-term tooth grinding often wears down otherwise healthy teeth, many people are interested in replacing their most damaged teeth with dental implants.
However, just swapping in implants won't entirely restore your smile. Your habit of grinding your teeth must be addressed with your dentist's help before you can undergo the implantation surgery for getting dental implants.
Potential for Damage
While dental implants are tough and able to handle the normal forces of chewing and biting, these devices are easily damaged by tooth grinding. The repetitive and strong force generated by nighttime grinding damages both the tooth attachment and the implanted post.
If you can't avoid grinding your teeth during the recovery period after surgery, you won't experience strong adhesion around the posts. A long-term grinding habit also leads to damaged jawbone tissue that has a harder time accepting the titanium material.
Protection Using Mouth Guard
Your dentist will likely recommend a custom-fitted mouth guard to protect your teeth after diagnosing you with bruxism. Wearing a mouth guard also helps to protect dental implants from damage, but some patients can't comfortably wear a guard for the first few days after the initial implant surgery.
You'll need a new mouth guard after having the dental implants finished in order to accommodate your new bite pattern. Change out the guard regularly so that it doesn't wear down and allow force to transfer over onto your natural teeth and the implants. Even if you think you have your bruxism under control through other treatments, you should continue wearing a nightly guard to prevent damage to your dental implants.
Preparation With Treatment
While wearing a mouth guard at night is a universal way to address tooth grinding, it's far from the only treatment you can try in preparation for dental implants. Reducing your stress through regular cardiovascular exercise, meditation, and therapy can all help you avoid bruxism by addressing one of the root causes.
Some people also experience a reduction in tooth-grinding symptoms when taking certain anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications. If you grind your teeth due to issues with your bite pattern, your dentist can reshape and align your teeth to relieve these kinds of secondary complications.
Pairings of the Right Kind
Basic dental implants all rely on similarly sized and shaped titanium anchors that penetrate into the jaw for a sturdy grip. More advanced and customized implants may include a mix of differently sized and shaped anchors so that the back teeth that experience the most force from grinding can better withstand the pressure.
Prevention of Gum Disease
Gum disease can set in whenever there's inflammation and tooth root damage. Gum disease is another complication that interferes with the use of dental implants, so you don't want to deal with both gingivitis and tooth grinding at the same time when you're planning a surgery.
Brushing twice daily and using gum-tightening mouthwash can help you reverse the damage of gum disease before having dental implants installed. Combine this treatment with bruxism therapies to make sure your teeth and gums are as healthy as possible before you make the switch to implants.
Want more information about how you can deal with the damage caused by ongoing tooth grinding? Schedule an appointment with the team at Carlino & Paton DDS PC to address the problem head-on. We'll tailor a custom plan that may include dental implants to replace badly damaged and worn-down teeth.