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Bruxism -- the signature diagnosis of the great recession

July 15, 2010
Although no study exists showing a direct relationship between bruxism and the recession, the dental professional community agrees it has seen a pronounced increase in stress-related teeth grinding over the last three years. Here’s an easy, affordable, and effective solution for your patients.
By John Jansheski, CEO and chief innovation officer of DenTekAs a result of the less than favorable economic situation, Americans are reporting unprecedented levels of stress. Stress can be devastating to your patients’ overall health and well-being, but do they realize it can also wreak havoc on their oral health?According to the American Dental Association, about 95% of Americans suffer from bruxism or nighttime teeth grinding at some point in their lives. And about 15% to 20% of the population can be considered chronic sufferers. Although no study exists showing a direct relationship between bruxism and the recession, the dental professional community agrees it has seen a pronounced increase in stress-related teeth grinding over the last three years ... so much so that many dentists are referring to bruxism as the “signature diagnosis of the great recession.”The most prescribed solution for this condition is a custom-made dental guard. Despite the pain and damaging effects of this condition, however, most patients go untreated. Generally, they refuse treatment because of the high costs of a custom-made guard, which can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,000. The unfortunate reality is that little, if any, of this cost is covered by insurance providers — not to mention that 50% of Americans don’t have dental insurance in the first place. Another factor is that most patients don’t understand the negative consequences of the condition. Educating your patients is vital to their treatment compliance. Beyond causing general discomfort and restless nights, excessive teeth grinding can cause serious wear on the surface of the teeth and damage dental restorations. If left untreated, it can also result in loss of teeth, cause or worsen temporomandibular disorders (TMD/TMJ), and even alter the appearance of the face. Normal chewing puts about 68 pounds per square inch of pressure on the back teeth, intentional clenching increases that to 150 pounds per square inch of pressure, and unconscious teeth grinding at night puts a whopping 900 pounds per square inch of pressure on the teeth! One night with bruxism is equivalent to one full month of normal wear and tear on the teeth’s chewing surfaces. Luckily, there is an alternative that effectively protects teeth from grinding and is ideal for your patients during these tough economic times. Available over-the-counter and for an affordable price, patients can now pick up a dental guard at their favorite mass merchant, drug, and even grocery store. Not to be confused with sports or athletic guards, these products are FDA regulated and designed specifically to protect against bruxism.
A popular model that is available at most retailers is the DenTek Custom Comfort Dental Guard. It’s similar in design to professional guards, in that it custom fits to your teeth and gums when heated, and comfortably protects all teeth from grinding. It normally retails for about $25. If your patients don’t like the bulk of this traditional design, DenTek also provides the Comfort-Fit Dental Guard, which is quite a bit smaller, fits on the bottom teeth, and adjusts to fit all sizes without the need for boiling water. Easy and uncomplicated, this solution is great for those who have trouble sleeping with bulkier guards.
So if your patients are experiencing higher levels of stress that may be causing them to grind and clench, tell them to relax. There is now an easy, affordable, and effective solution to their dental dilemma.
Mr. John Jansheski is the CEO and chief innovation officer of DenTek Oral Care Inc. He founded DenTek in 1985 in Petaluma, Calif., when he was 21. His father, a dentist, had an idea for an innovative oral hygiene product called the Dental Pik and had asked John to restart a defunct startup company his brother had abandoned with more than $150,000 in debt. Reluctantly, with only a small line of credit and just few drawings of the Dental Pik, John traveled to Taiwan in search of manufacturers for what would become the first of many unique and innovative products from DenTek. With only a few years of community college, Mr. Jansheski has lead DenTek to previously unforeseeable heights through savvy business sense and adhering to the company’s founding principle of providing innovative solutions for today’s oral care zealot. In 2001, DenTek moved its corporate headquarters to Maryville, Tenn., where it celebrates the previous 25 years of success and looks to the future. Mr. Jansheski resides in nearby Knoxville, and enjoys boating, listening to music, good food, and the company of good friends and family.