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Dentistry/Implants and teeth grinding


QUESTION: Could teeth grinding and clenching affect an implant? Would a night guard eliminate the risks? Does it make a difference if the implant is on the upper or lower jaw? If I grind/clench my teeth should I give up the ideea of having implants?

ANSWER: Dear Florin,

Teeth grinding and clenching can affect an implant adversely.  Just as it can affect your natural teeth adversely.  Just as it can affect your dentures, partials or bridgework adversely.

This is why I will always leave an implant tooth slightly shy of the bite.  If you are grinding your teeth, and hitting the implant, there is a greater chance that the implant will come loose, or that the parts between the implant and the tooth will break.  A bite guard will help to evenly dissipate the forces of your grinding over all your teeth.  Sometimes a bite guard actually will stop you from grinding.

Implants in the lower jaw, due to its increased bone density, tend to be more successful than implants in upper jaws.  Despite this fact, on average, 98% of all implants remain stable well beyond 5 years, with the difference between upper and lower implants being about 1% in favor of lower implants.

Clenching and grinding does not eliminate the use of implants for you.  It is just one of many factors that we take into consideration when evaluating you for implants.  Your dentist, or your implant specialist, will need to know about your habit, so that you can be evaluated properly.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Seems like a good idea to leave the implant tooth slightly shy of the bite. But then I thought what if in the future I loose the adjacent teeth and replace them with implants? The new crowns will have to be in line with the older implant crown. Eventually I will end up with the teeth on one side of the mouth shorter than on the other side.

The story of multiple implants is much different.  If we are replacing many missing teeth with implants, then, to the best of our ability, we must create a bite that distributes the pressure of your clenching evenly over all your teeth.  Even doing this, your clenching will have an adverse effect on your teeth or crowns, your roots or implants, and your jaw muscles and joints.

So... In the event that your plan is to lose more teeth, it may be that the first implant crown, which is now shy of the bite, may have to be replaced to bring it into even bite with the rest of your teeth.  In addition to all I've said, if you are planning on losing teeth and replacing them with implants, you should have a custom biteguard made.  And wear it all the time to protect your teeth from your self-inflicted trauma.

I have a 35 year old son who clenches his teeth.  He's 35 and his back teeth are worn flat.  He wears through about one biteguard a year.  And he doesn't wear it all the time, as instructed.  My advice to you is that you get one to protect your teeth, and wear it 24/7.  And don't plan on losing your adjacent teeth.


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Howard Finnk, D.D.S., P.A., CEO


I am a Family, Implant and Cosmetic dentist. I will answer questions on any aspect of dentistry and matters relating to the smile, gums, jaws and lower face. Member American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association, Broward County Dental Association, and Atlantic Coast District Dental Association. I have served as District Council Member of Alpha Omega, as well as serving for one term as its President. I am also a member of The Vedder Honors Society, Broward Dental Research Clinic, and Mount Sinai Hospital Guild. I have served as a Volunteer for Project Dental Health and The Tri-County Dental Health Council.


Having attained over 30 years of clinical experience in private practice in Michigan, in 2001 I was re-certified by taking and passing the Florida State Dental Board Examination. After moving to Florida, I spent nearly 10 years re-honing my skills while working as an Associate Dentist for several large dental groups. In September, 2004, I was appointed Adjunct Clinical Professor at Nova University's College of Dental Medicine. I am certified in placement of Mini Dental Implants, and I am Director of The Florida Implant Center ( On March 1, 2010, at the age of 62, I began all over again by buying a dental practice near my home in the Fort Lauderdale area. As sole owner and Chief Dental Officer of the new Nob Hill Dental Center (, I can now carefully provide dental care to patients who care, all within a caring, joyful environment. Over my career lifetime, I have provided thousands of diagnoses, fillings, crowns, bridges, root canals, periodontal treatments, TMJ therapies, partials, dentures and extractions, and dozens of implants for my patients. The only aspect of dentistry with which I have very little experience is orthodontics.

American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association, Broward County Dental Association, Atlantic Coast District Dental Society, Vedder Honors Society, Broward Dental Research Clinic, Alpha Omega Alumni Association, and American Association of Dental Implantologists. Formerly, American Academy of General Dentistry, Michigan Dental Association, Macomb Dental Society, Detroit District Dental Society, Tri-County Dental Health Council (a charitable dental care organization)

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Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Psychology from Wayne State University Doctor of Dental Surgery from University of Detroit College of Dentistry Adjunct Clinical Professor, Special Needs Department, Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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