Theresa Pablos, an assistant editor at the Dr Bicuspid website, posted an interesting study in November about screening tools that check for tooth wear. The study takes a look at the different strengths and weaknesses of different methods, but its title is a little misleading since it says “screening tools fall short.”

If a patient were to run across this article, he or she may wonder if dentists could really catch bruxism! You can take a quick glance at the article here or at drbicuspid.com:

Tooth wear screening tools fall short, new study finds

Which tooth wear evaluation tool works best? None, according to a new study. Researchers found that the four most common systems to categorize erosion all fall short of the requirements needed to be universally used in dental practice and research.

A team of international researchers realized that no universally applicable evaluation tool exists. Therefore, they set out to determine whether one of the existing systems could be used universally or if dental researchers need to create a new tool.

“It was this study’s first aim to perform an in-depth analysis of the characteristics of four commonly used tooth wear evaluation systems to determine if … [these systems show] characteristics of a hypothetical, broadly applicable evaluation system,” wrote the study authors, led by Peter Wetselaar, DDS, an assistant professor at the University of Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (BMC Oral Health, November 3, 2016) . . .

More people are aging with their natural dentition, and erosion is becoming an increasingly common problem seen in the dental office. However, while there are universal systems to diagnose and monitor caries and periodontal disease, a similar tool does not exist for tooth wear.

Although these tools and methods may not meet every criteria in the study, patients can rest assured: their dentists can definitely spot worn-away teeth!

For instance, in the following video, the doctor says that even though you may not have too many symptoms of bruxism, he can still see the flattening of worn away enamel. Dentists can also see gum recession from teeth “flexing” against one another and loosening tissue:

So even though there may be no universal tool that can identify teeth wear, you should still go in for a teeth cleaning since a combination of screening techniques can help. But if you do end up having bruxism, being diagnosed isn’t enough. Preventative measures should be taken. For instance, although you may think that teeth grinding is only caused by stress, there are many other factors at place:

Alcohol, cigarettes are risk factors for bruxism

December 14, 2016 — When patients report smoking cigarettes or frequently drinking alcohol, you probably automatically think of their increased risk for caries and periodontal disease. However, you may want to also check for bruxism during your exam.

A new study found those who smoke cigarettes and binge drink have an increased risk for sleep bruxism. The study authors hope dentists will use their findings to screen at-risk patients for the condition, which can lead to tooth wear and fractures, periodontal disease, and headaches.

“Because results of our [systematic review] indicated that there is some available evidence of the possible association between [sleep bruxism] and alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco, dentists should be aware of this possibility during the first dental appointment,” wrote lead study author Eduardo Bertazzo-Silveira, DDS, and colleagues (Journal of the American Dental Association, November 2016, Vol. 147:11, pp. 859-866).

Making adjustments in your life (such as cutting back on alcohol) could be all that’s needed to reduce night-time bruxism. However, if the issue does not resolve itself, it’s best to get fitted with a mouthguard at your dentist’s office.

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