Parafunction is a word that you might hear us talk about when you come in for your routine clinical checkup. It’s a broad category of behaviors that are outside of the normal range of what your teeth are supposed to do, and it can result in damage to your teeth, pain, regular headaches, and TMJ symptoms.
Parafunctions You Should Stop
There are many voluntary parafunctions that you should be aware of and try to stop. Chewing things other than food is one of the most common. If you chew pens, your fingernails, or other objects around the house, these can damage your teeth and hurt your jaw.
Another parafunction that you should avoid is using your teeth as tools to open bottles or serve as pliers. Your teeth aren’t meant for this, and you will cause wear and damage to them if you keep these habits up.
Parafunction You Need Help Stopping
Teeth clenching, technically called bruxism, is one of the most destructive parafunctions, and it’s often involuntary. Some people have stress-mediated daytime bruxism, so if you notice that you only clench your teeth when you’re stressed, you should seek help for stress control.
Other people clench their teeth at night while they sleep. This can be very destructive because it produces bite forces many times the magnitude of normal bite forces, and it’s completely involuntary. Often, an oral appliance (similar to a mouthguard, or the ones used for sleep apnea treatment) can help with your bruxism.
Effects of Parafunction
If you don’t get your parafunction treated, you can suffer many negative consequences. Parafunction can lead to tooth damage, such as chipped or cracked teeth, and it can even lead to a failure in restorations to those teeth. Parafunction increases dental crown failure risk by more than 2.5 times.
In addition, people who have parafunction are three or four times more likely to have have jaw pain. Two-thirds of people with parafunction have regular headaches. Parafunction can ultimately lead to advanced TMJ.
Fortunately, with treatment, the effects of teeth clenching can be lessened. If you think you are suffering from parafunction, please contact My Hills Dentist in the Baulkham Hills area of Sydney.