Dental implants are one of the best cosmetic solutions to replace missing teeth. They function just like natural tooth roots, meaning that they are extremely strong and long lasting. They also preserve bone mass, which prevents changes in facial bone structure. However, if you grind or clench your teeth, you may be wondering if dental implants are right for you.
The dental term for teeth grinding or clenching is bruxism. Bruxism can either be classified by the side to side rubbing of the top teeth against the bottom teeth (grinding) or the squeezing of the top teeth against the bottom teeth (clenching). In most cases, bruxism is a combination of these two behaviors.
Many people who grind or clench their teeth are actually unaware that they do so. This is because the majority of teeth grinding and clenching happens at night when they are asleep. If you find yourself waking up with headaches or not feeling rested, then you may be suffering from bruxism.
Still, others may not experience any symptoms and be unaware of their nighttime behavior until their semi annual dental checkup. During your dental exam, your dentist will evaluate your teeth for signs of teeth grinding or clenching. If you are being evaluated for dental implants, your dentist will also be looking to see if you grind or clench.
Teeth grinding and clenching can certainly increase the risk of implant failure. In order for implant treatment to be successful, the implant must fuse to the jawbone in a process known as osseointegration. If osseointegration is interrupted as a result of the excess force created by grinding or clenching, the implant will not fuse properly. If the implant does not fuse with jawbone, then it will not be secure and will need to be removed.
With that being said, grinding your teeth does not automatically eliminate you from getting dental implants. However, it does mean that you will have to commit to managing your bruxism and your implant dentist may postpone implant treatment to treat your bruxism. Reducing bruxism before placing dental implants increases the chances of their success.
Treatments for bruxism are centered around reducing stress and protecting your teeth from becoming damaged. Your dentist will likely make you a mouth guard to wear at night. These are also known as nightguards. Wearing a night guard helps to reposition your mouth so that it is in a more relaxed position, which reduces the frequency of bruxism. Additionally, it protects your teeth from grinding up against each other.
Since bruxism is partially caused by stress, your dentist may also recommend that you try new stress management strategies or see a therapist to determine the source of your stress. They may also give you facial exercises to work on in order to relieve facial tension and strengthen the muscles. Even after you have your dental implants placed, you will need to continue to wear your night guard, manage your stress, and continue possible facial exercises to reduce your bruxism.
Although teeth grinding and clenching can increase the risk of implant failure, you may still be able to get dental implants even if you grind your teeth. The key to getting dental implants as a teeth grinder is to seek treatment before, during, and after the placement of your dental implants. Managing your bruxism helps to keep it under control and increases the chances that your dental implant will be successful. To learn more about getting dental implants as a teeth grinder, schedule a consultation with your local implant dentist today.
Dr. Gerard J. Lemongello Jr. graduated from the University of Florida College of Dentistry and has been in private practice since 1987. His focus is on cosmetic and comprehensive restorative rehabilitative dentistry. He is a member of the American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association and Academy of General Dentistry, and is an accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.