Understanding Bite Changes And The Effects Of Tooth Grinding On Implants

For some people, a strong bite can be problematic. It can lead to grinding, clenching, and other types of tooth damage. When you have a dental implant, the excess pressure behind those types of movements may actually damage the implant itself. Here are a few tips to help you protect your implants and overcome some of the common issues that occur with a strong bite.

What Causes Grinding and Clenching?

Like all of your bone cells, the cells in your jawbone move on a regular basis. This is a naturally occurring process. As it happens, your teeth may actually shift slightly. The change can leave you feeling as though your bite is slightly off or a tooth is a little bit out of place. That feeling can cause the muscles in your face to move, twitch, and tighten erratically. This leads to clenching and grinding, even unintentionally.

How Is Your Bite Measured?

Your dental implant specialist will measure your bite using a super-thin paper to check the balance. The initial impression will be a baseline, so your future impressions will be measured against it. If any future impressions show that your bite is no longer balanced or there's an adjustment happening, your dental implant specialist can help you determine how to adjust the tooth surfaces. It's important that you're attentive to those measurements because any kind of shift in your bite can encourage you to grind your teeth in response. The grinding can lead to chips, cracks and even persistent pain in your jaw bone, neck, and head.

How Can You Ease The Muscle Strain?

One of the best ways to deal with that kind of strain is through muscle exercises. Things like ice and stretch exercises will help to moderate the tension in your facial muscles. This may help you to minimise the clenching and grinding response of those muscle spasms and the tension.

Apply ice to each side of your jaw for a few minutes, until the area is cooled. Usually about ten minutes is enough to cool the muscle. Once the muscles are cool, close your mouth and grab your chin. Try to pull your jaw open while simultaneously holding those muscles closed. Do this ten times. Then open your jaw about halfway and resist closing it ten times. Repeat this process moving your jaw to the right and to the left. Do this right before bed to allow the muscles to build overnight.

In other situations, these exercises may not be enough. Your dental implant specialist can recommend a bite adjustment if needed. During that process, your teeth will be shaped to better fit together. You may also be fitted with a bite guard or receive new implants that are better fits for your jaw.