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Dean George is the Marketing Specialist and Content Creator for Dental Insurance
Store and its social media channels. He is a regular contributor to Agent Straight Talk, the
only consumer blog explaining the ins, outs and in-betweens of dental insurance and
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Don’t Grit Your Teeth and Bare It

Nov 13, 2013

We live in stressful times.  Despite all the technological wonders, modern home conveniences, and the fact 90% of most Americans live within 15 miles of a Wal-Mart, stress is as much a part of modern life as microwaves and mocha lattes.

Photo source:

Of course, stress today is a bit different than it was in the past.

For example, cavemen stalking game for the Crood family barbecue knew they could become steak tar tare for ravenous beasts in a heartbeat. And while the Wampanoag Indians warmly welcomed pilgrims at Plymouth Rock with popcorn treats and VIP tickets to the tribal casino, you know Miles Standish & Co. stressed over food, shelter and their lack of polar fleece that first winter.

The point is every generation in history has dealt with stress. The resilient Continental Army at Valley Forge suffered through conditions better suited for the Winter Olympics than fighting for independence.  And think about the hungry passengers stuck in the buffet line when the Titanic hit the iceberg – they had to be stressed at that turn of events.  And what about the opening act for the Beatles on their first American tour – talk about stressed out!

Stress manifests itself in different ways, including in the ol’ pie hole.  Last week Felicia wrote about holiday stress and how it manifests itself with canker sores, teeth grinding, dry mouth and more. The technical term for teeth grinding and jaw clinching is bruxism.

Bruxism is not to be confused with the French-spoken capitol of Belgium (Bruxelles), an ungracious blunt person (brusque), or burlesque, which I only include to see if you are still reading.

Glad to see you are still with me.

Bruxism may not even be noticeable in mild cases, but in severe cases it can lead to jaw disorders like temporomandibular disorder (TMD), headaches, tooth sensitivity from worn down tooth enamel, facial pain and earaches.

The most common form of bruxism is sleep bruxism. Because most people aren’t aware they are grinding their teeth in their sleep (unless a helpful spouse smothers them with a pillow to get them to stop), it’s not uncommon for sleep bruxism sufferers to learn about the problem until complications develop. What then?

There are a couple of dental appliances for sleep bruxism: mouth guards and splints.  Dentists call mouth guards used for bruxism treatment night guards.  

Photo source:

Night Guards We wrote about the different type of mouth guards for school athletes in August, including over the counter and custom made mouth guards.  Like traditional mouth guards, custom made night guards are designed and fitted by a dentist and are often preferred for their stability and comfort.

Bonus: Like custom-fitted mouth guards, the custom-fitted night guards are easier to breathe with and make it easier to talk.  This is helpful if you speed walk in your sleep or worry about enunciating properly when talking in your sleep.

Nocturnal Bite Plate or Bite Splint This dental device consists of custom-made hard plastic that fits over the top or bottom teeth.  One of the more popular types of splints is called a Nociceptive Trigeminal Inhibition (NTI) appliance. These devices are popular for people that prefer sleeping with less obtrusive devices in their mouths. The NTI fits just over the front teeth to prevent clenching the back molars. This puts less pressure on the anterior teeth and less strain on the jawbone.

When acute cases of bruxism lead to tooth damage that make it difficult to chew, a dentist may suggest corrective procedures like dental onlays or a dental crown to correct the affected teeth.   Dental onlays cover cusps or the entire biting surface of a tooth. 

But let’s not get the dental corrective cart ahead of the dental treatment horse! Dentists can identify early stages of bruxism during routine exams, which is why we always encourage readers to visit their dentist every six months. Whether you suffer from bruxism or something as simple as the beginning of a cavity, it’s always better (and less expensive) to pursue preventative treatment rather than corrective treatment.

As luck would have it, we have a number of affordable and popular dental plans in the 48 contiguous states that offer access to office visits and preventative care. Some of our plans even include periodic dental visits at no charge.    

To see what plans are available in your area, click here.  Thanks for reading Agent Straight-Talk, and remember: Smile often – it lets your teeth breathe.

Sources:, WebMD,

Copyright 2013, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC ©

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