Patients who subconsciously take out stress on their teeth at night is nothing new. But the recession is. A periodontist, Dr. David Samuels reports that he can practically see the impact of the economy in his patients’ X-rays.
“On these films right here that we’re looking at, this area right here represents the top of the tooth – a fracture of the top of the tooth from clenching and grinding,” Samuels says. “You also see flattened surfaces on tops of the teeth. And then if you look down here below, you’ll see the bone loss associated with clenching and grinding. So even on the X-rays, you can see evidence, if you will, of increased stress in someone’s life. And we do see more of that now than we used to.”
About twice as much. Samuels is also the head of the Massachusetts Dental Society. A survey of its 5,000 members reveals business from stress-related tooth injuries has generally doubled.
The most common remedy for teeth grinding is a preventative bite guard. Generic ones you can buy a drugstore cost about $25. Samuels says they’re better than nothing. But he recommends custom-fit ones.