Recommendations for a Tooth Grinder

Hello Dr. Ellie,

I am a 21 year old college student. A few weeks ago, I visited my dentist for my routine cleaning. My dentist said while my teeth did not show decay he saw evidence of grinding because two of my bottom molars (I believe 18 and 31) were flat and had “divets” on the top of them. He said I should get an occlusal guard. I paid him $500 for the guard but I honestly don’t feel it’s working. I am in fear that I will somehow further damage these teeth and then they will be extracted. In addition, I still have some soreness with these teeth. The pain only occurs sometimes, usually in the morning and its just a sore feeling, nothing sharp or too painful but it definitely doesn’t feel right. I just started your clean mouth system a few days ago and have been using xylitol gum after every meal and “zelliewater” throughout the day. Do you think following your system may strengthen my teeth and reduce the damage caused by grinding (could it possible heal these “divets”)? Also, do you think it would be beneficial to use ACT one more time during the day, on its own since my teeth have damage? Lastly, I was instructed to brush my guard with a toothbrush before putting it in. I always put it in after I do the ACT rinse in the system — do you think just using a toothbrush and paste on the guard will provide sufficient cleaning that it won’t introduce unwanted bacteria to my mouth?

Thank you for your help.


Hi SS,

Thanks for your message.

It’s NOT normal for people to “grind” teeth to a state of damage – especially someone age 21!

Most of us grind our teeth – but strong teeth do not wear away or erode.

Damage to teeth is the end result of a daily tally between damage and repair – a kind of check and balance – each and every day.

Even in a healthy mouth teeth get damaged/ground down a bit – but natural repair fixes the wear spots and rebuilds.

There is a damage/repair balance that is always in a constant dynamic state ( much the same thing happens to bones – it’s nature’s way to keep these important structures “young” and strong).

Your teeth must have been damaged more often, or for longer time intervals, than the length of time or number of experiences they had to repair.

This may mean that your teeth experience a lot of daily acidity – and this is most often from drinks – especially citrus drinks – (even if they are “healthy” ones like juices – even diet/sugarless).

Acidic damage can also be from sour candies, vitamin C tablets, or some habit that creates acidity in the mouth.

Whitening products (Whitening strips test at pH 1.5) – are also a problem – but usually this damage is seen on the front – not biting – surfaces of teeth.

The other possibility is acid reflux – but usually this occurs in older adults.

My question to you would be what is your routine just before sleeping at night – do you eat anything citrus before sleeping?

If none of these ideas seem appropriate to your case, then we must look not for the damage, but why are your teeth unable to repair themselves?

Since saliva is the repair vehicle, most often the cause is because someone has a dry mouth.

A dry mouth may be due to a blocked nose from allergies, or sleeping with your mouth open, sinus blockage, or sometimes for competitive athletes (runners or people weight lifting etc.)

Think of the athlete who drinks acidic Gatorade and then clenches his teeth during competitive sports – this can do damage.

Acidity softens the tooth surface, and then any lack of saliva limits the healing process.

Lack of saliva ( dry mouth) also allows teeth to grind against each other like a car engine without oil – not good!

I would like you to try and figure out WHY you have this problem – and fix it – rather than use a bite guard for the rest of your life.

My system will be a great help to you – and the extra ACT rinse makes a lot of sense.

I think everything else you mention – even the way you clean this bite plate is fine.

I think you are doing everything right – I wish you had used my system earlier – but at least you can stop the damage going forward.

I would be interested in knowing if any of these ideas rings a “bell” or sounds as if it may have been the cause of this damage.

Teeth do NOT just “wear away” like some phenomenon!!

I hope this is helpful to you.

If you need more consultation – I do offer personal telephone coaching sessions – so let me know.

I will charge $75 per half hour – but it may be helpful if you want to discuss your dental problems in more depth.

Best Wishes,

Dr.Ellie Phillips DDS
Solutions for Oral Health

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